At Descriptive Video Works we take pride in not just making television and movies accessible to those suffering from vision impairment, but also in educating those with healthy vision as to how they can better protect themselves.
Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in North American adults aged 24-70 and this month is Diabetes Awareness Month.
There are two predominant forms of diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes results from the body’s failure to produce insulin and requires the person to inject insulin regularly. Type 2 Diabetes results from a resistance to insulin whereby cells in the body fail to use insulin correctly.
Diabetes can affect vision in a variety of ways but the two most common problems are Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Edema. Diabetic Retinopathy is a disease which affects up to 80% of all patients who have suffered from Diabetes from more than 10yrs. Small blood vessels in the eyes are particularly vulnerable to poor blood sugar control and an over accumulation of glucose and/or fructose can damage the tiny blood vessels inside the retina.
Macula Edema occurs when fluid and protein deposits collect on or under the macula of the eye causing it to thicken and swell. It is this swelling that can cause a person’s vision to blur and distort.
Here some more numbers for you to digest:
14% of people with diabetes have diabetic macula edema. Prevalence increases to 29% for people with diabetes who use insulin for more than 20yrs.
25% of people with diabetic macular edema will develop moderate vision loss within 3yrs if left untreated.
40-65% is the annual rate for eye exams but this number varies wildly depending on the country. In North America we are lagging seriously so it doesn’t take much to imagine how serious this problem is for Third World nations.
Incredibly, research shows that up to 90% of vision loss cases resulting from diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macula edema could be reduced if there was significantly improved regular monitoring and treatment of the eyes. Even more startling are the prevalence figures of diagnosed and undiagnosed for ethnic minorities who are often in lower income groups and who lack access to medical services.
Be sure to do your part for Diabetes Awareness Month.
If you know anyone suffering from diabetes, please do encourage them to go for regular eye exams. Below are a few helpful links:
American Diabetes Association
American Foundation for the Blind – Diabetes & Vision Loss
Lighthouse International – Preventing Diabetes & Vision Loss
Also, check out this story from CTV about a new drug that could reverse diabetes-related vision loss.