Diabetes Can Be Linked to Eye Problems - Patients Should Work With Appropriate Health Care Providers to Decrease Risks

Mar 30, 2010, 13:27 ET from American Dietetic Association

CHICAGO, March 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For people with diabetes, proper nutrition can have a far-reaching effect on their health and wellness. They also have a higher risk of developing vision problems. March is National Nutrition Month and Save Your Vision Month, and the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and American Optometric Association (AOA) would like to remind people that optometrists and registered dietitians are an important part of the health care team.

"The eye offers a unique opportunity to view blood vessels without doing surgery," said Leo Semes, O.D., AOA spokesperson. "From this vantage point, optometrists as primary eye care providers are able to screen as well as follow patients with diabetes. Through a dilated eye examination, an important aspect of diabetic care, optometrists can assess for diabetic changes in those diagnosed as well as observe for alterations of blood vessels in patients at risk or undiagnosed with diabetes."

Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body uses energy, in the form of glucose, from food. People with diabetes need to keep their blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Blood sugar levels are controlled through food choices, physical activity and, for some people, oral medication or insulin injections.

According to the AOA, people with diabetes may be at greater risk of:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Retinopathy

"By following the healthy eating plan that you have worked out with your dietitian, you can avoid these issues," says registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Angela Ginn-Meadow. "Your RD will work with you and your health care team to strike the right balance between your meal plan and any medications you take."

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, seek the expert advice of a registered dietitian to help you manage the disease while ensuring you get the nutrients your body needs. Many health plans, including the government's Medicare Part B program cover medical nutrition therapy provided by a registered dietitian. Use the "Find a Registered Dietitian" tool at www.eatright.org to locate a registered dietitian in your area.

Early detection of eye problems is critical in maintaining healthy vision. Be sure to see an optometrist if your vision becomes blurry; you have trouble reading signs or books; experience double vision; feel pressure in your eyes; encounter straight lines appearing indistinct; or your side vision is limited.

Individuals who are at high risk for diabetes need to have regular, dilated eye exams and all individuals with known diabetes need to have dilated eye exams each year. Use the "Find an Optometrist" tool at www.aoa.org to locate an optometrist in your area.

About the American Dietetic Association

The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.

About the American Optometric Association

The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.

SOURCE American Dietetic Association