6 Ways Eye Care Practices can Observe Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

A woman consulting a doctor about optical lenses at a desk.

Diabetic eye disease (DED) is a severe medical condition that can lead to vision loss if left untreated. DED is the leading cause of blindness among adults 20-74 years old in the United States. This month, we encourage you to use this time to educate your patients about DED, and its risk factors, schedule comprehensive, dilated eye exams for them—and even encourage them to walk after their exam! Here are just some of the ways your eyecare practices and professionals can observe Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month: 

Educate your patients about diabetes and the risk of DED.

The first step to preventing diabetic eye disease is educating patients about the risks of diabetes and how it can affect their eyes. Diabetes is a chronic disease affecting the body’s ability to use glucose, the primary energy source for your body’s cells. The two main types of diabetes are type 1 (formerly called insulin-dependent, juvenile, or early onset) and type 2 (once non-insulin dependent).

With proper treatment, management, and control of diabetes, many complications can be prevented, such as eye problems. Unfortunately, many people with diabetes do not realize they have this condition until it causes significant health problems like blindness.

Create awareness.

You can create awareness during this period by doing the following:

● Share awareness campaign graphics on social media.
● Use the hashtag #DEDAwarenessMonth on Twitter and Instagram.
● Post a picture from the AAO website or DEDA’s Facebook page

Along with those steps above, you should also post your content to help spread awareness of this disease and how it affects patients in your area!

Schedule comprehensive dilated eye exams for your patients.

Eye health is one of the most critical aspects of overall health. While you may be aware that diabetic eye disease (DED) affects more than six million people in the United States and is a common complication for those with diabetes, many patients do not get regular dilated eye exams. Only seven percent of Americans at risk for DED have had their eyes examined within the last year.

This month is an excellent opportunity to help educate your patients about recognizing the signs and symptoms of DED and how often they should have comprehensive dilated eye exams. You can also discuss treatment options with them if they’ve been affected by DED or other conditions affecting their vision health. If you have any concerns about what you observe during this time, communicate them with your patients so they can seek additional information.

Encourage your patients to go for a walk after their eye exam.

Walking is one of the best ways to improve overall health and lower the risk of severe health conditions like heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. You can also find other benefits such as:

● It helps to improve blood flow by moving more oxygen and nutrients through the body
● It can help you relax after an intense day at work or school
● It helps with sleeping better at night so you can wake up feeling refreshed in the morning
● Encourages weight loss by burning calories instead of storing them as fat

Review diabetic retinopathy screening recommendations from the AAO.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that all patients with diabetes be screened for diabetic retinopathy. The frequency and type of screening will vary depending on your age, risk factors, and other clinical characteristics. The AAO also recommends that you discuss the following with your eye care professional:

● Frequency of screenings
● Screening tools
● Intervals for follow-up visits

Use AAO resources to educate your patients.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has a wealth of resources for you to use as you educate your patients, including:

● A toolkit with tips and ideas for educating the public about diabetic eye disease. These include using brochures and videos, hosting awareness events, etc.
● A patient brochure on diabetic retinopathy that you can give to patients.
● An infographic that provides more information on the statistics of diabetic retinopathy in the US population

Diabetic eye disease is a severe condition that can lead to vision loss, but patients can live long, healthy lives with proper care. The best way to reduce your patient’s risk of DED is by encouraging them to schedule regular eye exams and visit the doctor for a comprehensive dilated exam every year. It’s also important to make sure you have all the equipment and products to carry out these procedures! See how Allentown Optical provides products and services built to enhance eye care practices. Contact us today for inquiries and assistance.