Diabetes, Hypertension patients need annual eye exam to reduce blindness risk

27 Apr

Among the leading causes of vision loss and blindness are diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, according to Dr. John Henahan, optometrist at Spectrum Eyecare in Peachtree City.  “As the incidence of these diseases is climbing, so too are ocular complications, including cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and other retinal problems.”, according to Dr. Henahan.

In fact, ABC World News (4/26, story 7, 1:20, Sawyer) reported that “almost half of American adults, 45% of us, now have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes,” according to researchers from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Los Angeles Times (4/27, Maugh) reports that “one in eight Americans has at least two of the conditions and one in 33 has all three, sharply increasing their risk.” These “data come from the ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” While “researchers should be able to use the new data to plan interventions, ‘the main thing here is for people to be aware that they have these conditions and know that lifestyle modifications and medications can control them and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease,’ said epidemiologist Cheryl D. Fryar of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, one of the study’s authors.”

WebMD (4/26, Woznicki) reported that “the study shows that about 8% of adults have undiagnosed high blood pressure, 8% have undiagnosed high cholesterol, and 3% of have undiagnosed diabetes.”

HealthDay (4/26, Edelson) reported that “blacks had a particularly high incidence of hypertension, 42.5 percent, compared to 29.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 26.1 percent of Mexican-Americans.” The report indicated that “high blood cholesterol was more common among non-Hispanic whites (26.9 percent) than among blacks (21.5 percent) and Mexican-Americans (21.8 percent), while diabetes was more common among blacks (14.6 percent) and Mexican-Americans (15.3 percent) than among non-Hispanic whites (8.3 percent).”

According to Dr. Henahan, “If you or someone you care about has one of these conditions, it is critical to get annual eye exams with your pupils dilated, even if you have perfect vision.  It’s less about eyeglasses for these patients than it is about the medical health of the eyes.”

At Spectrum Eyecare, all diabetics receive retinal photos to ensure that no diabetic retinopathy is present.  That helps preserve vision by finding problems early so treatment can prevent vision loss.

Many patients do not understand that in most cases they can have an eye exam covered by their medical insurance if they have one of these medical conditions.  “You do not need vision insurance to have an eye exam if you are diabetic, hypertensive or have high cholesterol”, reports Dr. Henahan. Although you may have a copay or deductible to meet, the exam can be filed through your medical insurance.

If it has been more than one year since your last eye exam, or if you are newly diagnosed with one or more of these conditions, contact us to schedule your medical eye exam.  At Spectrum Eyecare, we schedule just two full eye exams per hour so we can be thorough in evaluating the total health of your eyes.

After all, you only have one set of eyes.

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