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EyeSmart features information and resources you need from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and other to help keep your eyes healthy. CSEPS encourages you to live EyeSmart!

 

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Top tags: eye smart  EyeSmart  back-to-school  childhood vision screening  children  diabetes  halloween  low vision  patient education  safety  senior 

Diabetes and Eyes: What People Don’t Know Could Leave Them Blind

Posted By Kate Alfano, Monday, November 10, 2014

While people with diabetes are more likely to develop blinding eye diseases, recent studies have revealed low awareness of the issue among ethnicities at higher risk for diabetes and low uptake of preventive eye exams among affected Medicare beneficiaries. With the findings signaling that many Americans may not be defending themselves against diabetes-related vision loss, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is sharing information about diabetic eye disease and dilated eye exams to encourage those with diabetes to take proactive steps to protect their vision.

Although Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely to have diabetes than most other ethnicities, a recent poll commissioned by the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research has revealed that only 27 and 32 percent (respectively) report to know about diabetic eye disease.[1] In addition, while the Academy recommends that people with diabetes have a dilated eye exam every year, one study recently published in the journal Ophthalmology found that, among Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma or diabetes – all conditions that require an annual eye exams – three-quarters of those who did not have an exam in five years were those living with diabetes.[2] 

“It’s alarming that so many people with diabetes or at risk for diabetes may be unaware of the damage their condition can do to their eyes and may not be getting exams to check for it,” said Raj K. Maturi, M.D., ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Outside of maintaining good blood glucose levels, having an annual dilated eye exam is the best first line defense against vision loss from diabetic eye disease.”

While “diabetic eye disease” is often used, people may be unaware that this term encompasses a number of diseases and conditions that can cause blindness if left untreated. These include the following.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy affects 28.5 percent of people age 40 and older living with diabetes.[3] It occurs when the small blood vessels in the eye change by swelling, leaking fluid or closing off completely, blocking blood flow from reaching the retina. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy does not have symptoms, but can lead to changes in the eye, such as macular edema, which is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes. Treatment for diabetic retinopathy and many of its related changes include laser surgery, medical injections and vitrectomy surgery in which blood and scar tissue caused by abnormal blood vessels is removed.
  • Cataract occurs when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy, causing vision to become blurry, cloudy or dim. While this happens in many people as they age, those with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts than their peers without diabetes. Mild cataracts may be treated with eyeglasses, but once the cataract is advanced, it will require cataract surgery, in which the natural cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant known as an intraocular lens or IOL.
  • Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve and peripheral vision. The damage to the optic nerve is usually caused by elevated pressure in the eye. People with diabetes are also more likely to develop glaucoma, which rarely has any noticeable symptoms in its early stages. Glaucoma can be treated with medication such as prescription eye drops or with surgery, but will result in blindness if left untreated.

The Academy recommends that those with those with type 2 diabetes should get a dilated eye exam at the time of diagnosis and every year following. Those with type 1 diabetes should start receiving annual eye exams five years after their initial diagnosis.

Seniors who have not had a recent eye exam or for whom cost is a concern may qualify for EyeCare America, a program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, that offers eye exams and care at no out-of-pocket cost for eligible seniors age 65 and older. EyeCare America is the largest public service program of its kind in American medicine, and has helped more than 1.8 million people access eye care services. Visit www.eyecareamerica.org to learn more.

Through its public education website, EyeSmart, the Academy also offers tools and information such as



[1] http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/AEVRRApoll.pdf

[2] http://www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420(14)00624-1/abstract

[3] http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf


Tags:  diabetes  eye smart 

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Four Frightening Ways Non-Prescription Costume Contact Lenses Can Ruin Your Vision

Posted By Kate Alfano, Monday, October 27, 2014

To avoid a real-life Halloween horror story – going blind because of a costume accessory – the American Academy of Ophthalmology is warning the public against wearing costume contact lenses purchased without a prescription. These illegally sold cosmetic lenses may not be sterile and can cause a host of serious eye problems capable of morphing a fun Halloween night into a nightmare.

Tiger eyes, checkered pupils: non-prescription decorative lenses (also calledcosmetic, costume or plano contact lenses) come in many different patterns and colors. In 2005, after reports of them causing eye injuries and infections, the Federal Drug Administration classified all contact lenses as medical devices and restricted their distribution to licensed eye care professionals, effectively banning sales of non-prescription contact lenses. Despite that, these items remain available on the internet, in convenience stores and at flea markets.

Below are four frightening ways that non-prescription decorative lenses can hurt your eyes:

  1. Scratches – Because over-the-counter lenses are not fitted and sized for the person wearing the contacts, they can easily scrape the outer layer of the eye. The resulting corneal abrasions can cause redness, light sensitivity, discharge, pain, plus the feeling that something is stuck under the eyelid.
  2. Sores – Costume contact lenses can literally create an eye sore called acorneal ulcer, with symptoms similar to corneal abrasions. The ulcers sometimes appear as a white dot on the iris – the colored part of the eye. When the ulcers heal, they can scar over and can in some cases permanently affect vision.
  3. Infections – Both corneal abrasions and ulcers create openings in the eye, making them more vulnerable to bacteria, viruses and amoebas. All of these organisms can cause serious eye infections known as keratitis. One study found that wearing cosmetic contact lenses increased the risk of keratitis by more than 16 times.[i] Some infections, such as herpes simplex, can be recurring and difficult to eradicate, while a number of bacteria have become resistant to common antibiotics.
  4. Blindness – In the most extreme cases, complications from wearing costume contact lenses may require surgery or end in blindness. For instance, extensive scarring from an infection can distort the cornea or make it opaque, requiring a corneal transplant to restore vision.  

"I hate to think of all the young people who might be buying these non-prescription contact lenses on Halloween, only to end up with an infection that can ruin their sight forever," said Thomas Steinemann, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, who treats multiple cases each year. "There is a reason the FDA regulates the sale of contact lenses, and that's because the over-the-counter versions have been shown to cause serious, irreparable damage to your vision if they're not sterile or fitted to your eyes."

Costume Contact Lens Safety Guidelines
To safely wear decorative contact lenses this Halloween or any time of year, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends following these guidelines:

  • Only buy decorative contact lenses from an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist – a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions – optometrist or retailer that requires a prescription and sells FDA-approved products.
  • If you don't already have a contact lens prescription, obtain a valid prescription and eye exam from an ophthalmologist or optometrist, a health care professional who provides primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment and management of vision changes. 
  • Even for those with perfect vision, an eye exam and prescription are mandatory in order to fit the right size contacts. Do not fall victim to false advertising claims and lenses labeled as "one size fits all" or "no need to see an eye specialist."
  • Follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses.Contacts that are left in for too long or that are not properly cleaned and disinfected can significantly increase the risk of an eye infection
  • Never share contact lenses with another person or wear expired lenses. 
  • If you notice redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contact lenses, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist. Eye infections like keratitis can quickly become serious and cause blindness if left untreated. 

Tags:  eye smart  halloween  safety 

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Celebrate senior independence month

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Each day, approximately 10,000 Americans turn 65, and one in six adults this age and older has a vision impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. As part of its support for Senior Independence Month this July, CSEPS and the American Academy of Ophthalmology is providing older adults with low vision guidance on how to make the most of their remaining sight and keep their independence.

An estimated 2.9 million Americans have low vision, which makes it difficult or impossible for them to accomplish activities such as reading, writing, shopping, watching television, driving a car or recognizing faces. Low vision can be caused by eye diseases that are more common in older people, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, there are many strategies and resources available to people with low vision that can help them overcome these challenges.

Encourage your patients to follow these tips to help them overcome low vision:

  • See an ophthalmologist.
  • Make things bigger by sitting closer to the television or getting large print books. Carry magnifiers for help.
  • Make things brighter. Make sure areas are well-lit.
  • Organize and label. Designate spots for your keys, wallet and frequently used items in your refrigerator. Label medications with markers or rubber bands.
  • Participate. Don’t isolate yourself. Keep your social group, volunteer job, or golf game. Ask for the help you need.
To learn more about age-related eye diseases and low vision resources, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

Tags:  eye smart  low vision  senior 

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