November is National Diabetes month, according to the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP). Diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of blindness and often has no early warning signs. In conjunction, Dr. Howard Lazarus, Director of Retina and Research at John-Kenyon, wants to educate the community and encourage them to take steps to protect their vision and spread the word about diabetic eye disease, especially diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition caused by diabetes that many may not be familiar with – here are the facts:
- Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels in the retina are damaged. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can result in severe vision loss, including blindness. In fact, it is the leading cause of blindness among working age adults.
- Anyone with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy, but those with Type 1 diabetes and those who have had diabetes for a long time are at the greatest risk.
- In early stages of retinopathy, no treatment may be necessary. When retinopathy affects the macula and central vision, outpatient laser treatment may be used to seal leaking blood vessels. In some cases, medication may be given to treat macular edema. In more advanced cases, laser treatments may be used to curtail the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels or corrective microsurgical procedures may be performed.
Dr. Lazarus and the team at John-Kenyon encourage adults with diabetes to have an eye exam at least once a year. Frequent, comprehensive eye exams are the best protection against the progression of diabetic retinopathy, no matter what time of year.
About Dr. Lazarus:
Dr. Howard Lazarus is the resident retina specialist at John-Kenyon, treating patients with diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and other retinal disorders. A recognized leader in his field, Dr. Lazarus was the first doctor in the region to use the PASCAL laser and 25-gauge vitrectomy, a cutting-edge treatment for retinal diseases. A leader in retina research, Dr. Lazarus has served on the advisory boards of leading pharmaceutical companies that help define treatments for retinal diseases. His dedication to finding a cure for retinal diseases has led him to serve as the principal investigator on more than two-dozen clinical research studies throughout his career.