May is Healthy Vision Month: Focus on Retinopathy Screening

During Healthy Vision Month, NACDD aims to raise awareness of state efforts to empower adults with diabetes to take care of their vision and to inspire health professionals to make vision screenings a public health priority.

Focusing on eye health is critical for people with diabetes because:

  • People with all types of diabetes are at risk for retinopathy, and the risk increases with a longer duration of diabetes.
  • Family history and having or developing diabetes during pregnancy can increase the risk, rate of onset, and severity of retinopathy.
  • Retinopathy usually has no early warning signs or symptoms until it begins to affect vision.
  • Early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care is 90% effective in protecting against vision loss or blindness.

NACDD currently is working with several public health agencies and their partners on projects designed to increase access to vision and eye care services, including screening for glaucoma and retinopathy. While 40% to 45% of people with diagnosed diabetes have some stage of retinopathy, only about half are aware of it. Diabetic retinal screening is a service available from nearly all eye care providers. It also may be available to patients in rural or medically underserved areas via telehealth technology. This technology allows retinal screening without dilation using a non-mydriatic retinal camera at the screening site that can transmit the images to a central reading center through telemedicine.

Let’s make retinopathy screening a focus! Help us promote healthy vision nationwide by sharing information and resources during May — or at any time of year. Visit the CDC Vision Health Initiative webpage at https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/home/index.html and the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) Healthy Vision Month website at www.nei.nih.gov/hvm to get free resources. For more information, please contact Carol McPhillips-Tangum at ctangum@chronicdisease.org.

Photo by unsplash.com