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November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Believe it or not, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10% of the American population has diabetes! One in four seniors has type 2 diabetes.  If we add in pre-diabetics the figure rises to 100 million U.S. adults. That’s almost 30% of the U.S. population.

Diabetic eye disease comprises a group of eye problems including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma. About one-third of diabetics have diabetic eye disease with 6-8% having severe sight-threatening disease. Thanks to the tremendous advances in the treatment of diabetes over the last generation, the likelihood of serious sight-threatening complications from diabetes has decreased dramatically.

As was noted in a recent medical article, ‘‘The marked reduction in…retinopathy [eye disease] and vision impairment over the past few decades…have resulted from the introduction of new devices for self-monitoring of blood-glucose levels and the administration of insulin, new medications (e.g., statins and hypoglycemic agents), surgical interventions (including vitrectomy), an increased awareness of the need for intensive control of glycemia [blood sugar] and blood pressure and the implementation of educational and screening programs.”

In other words, control of blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) with medications along with proper management of eye disease is sight saving and life-enhancing. Weight control, diet and exercise, as we all know, play a key role in achieving these goals. 

People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at an earlier age than those without diabetes. Also, diabetes doubles the chances of having glaucoma, which is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss and blindness if left untreated.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that diabetics receive a dilated eye exam annually regardless of age, duration of disease and type of diabetes. Dilation is done with eye drops and allows the eye doctor to clearly see the back of the eye, the part affected by diabetes.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget. For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, please call the Linwood office at 609.927.3373 or 609.465.7926 for the Cape May Court House office. Visit online at www.CoastalJerseyEye.com.

Consult an Eye Care Professional if Your Halloween Costume Includes Scary Eyes

Decorative contact lenses have become increasingly popular Halloween costumes in recent years. While they made add a thrill to your costume, wearing costume contact lenses without a prescription can lead to serious eye infections or permanent vision loss.

Like regular contact lenses, decorative lenses must be prescribed and fitted by an eye care professional. When choosing accessories for your Halloween costume, protect your vision and avoid an unwanted scare by wearing only ophthalmologist-approved contact lenses from trusted manufacturers.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) strongly warns against using any over-the-counter non-prescription contact lenses. These lenses may be made with harmful materials that can cause painful corneal ulcers or keratitis, leading to impaired vision or blindness.

In addition, lenses with designs printed on them have rough surfaces which can scratch the eye, making the eye more vulnerable to infection-causing bacteria and viruses. Sometimes, scarring from an infection is so bad that a corneal transplant is required to restore vision. The most extreme cases can end in blindness.

The AAO offers the following tips to help ensure your Halloween costume won’t haunt you long after Halloween:

  • See an eye care professional to get a prescription for costume contact lenses.
  • Properly care for contact lenses. Even if you have a prescription for contact lenses, proper care remains essential.
  • Never share contacts. Sharing contacts spreads germs and can cause pink eye.

Ask your ophthalmologist about the risks before you purchase costume lenses, and have your eyes examined right away if you have used over-the-counter lenses. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget. For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, please call the Linwood office at 609.927.3373 or 609.465.7926 for the Cape May Court House office. Visit online at www.CoastalJerseyEye.com.

Back-To-School Eye Exams Help Kids Succeed in the Classroom

School supplies… new shoes… eye exam?  It’s back to school season, which makes it a perfect time for a comprehensive eye exam.

Many of us believe that vision screenings – like those offered by the school nurse or in the pediatrician’s office – are effective at detecting vision problems. While helpful in detecting some problems, they are no substitute for an exam performed by an eyecare professional.

Small children rarely complain of vision problems. They are easily distracted and inattentive during these ‘mass screenings’, thus further limiting their usefulness.

Some kids are at higher risk for vision problems and should receive regular eye exams.  These include the children of parents with significant eyeglass needs, children of Asian ethnicity, and a family history of childhood eye problems including crossed and lazy eyes. Also, once a child is prescribed glasses, vison can change rapidly so annual eye exams are a must.

Poor vision can lead to behavioral and attention issues in the classroom. According to Prevent Blindness America, one in four school-age children have vision problems that, if left untreated, affect their learning ability.

Here are some eye health safety tips:

  • Be on the lookout for indicators of potential problems. Common signals that a child is experiencing a vision problem includes covering one eye, holding reading materials close to the face and complaining of headaches.  Be aware that small children rarely complain of poor vision.
  • Prevent eye strain by monitoring the use of electronic devices.
  • Wear proper eye protection for sports and outdoor activities. Protective eye wear and quality sunglasses with UV protection are critical to maintaining key visual skills for sports.
  • Encourage children to wash their hands before putting them close to their eyes.
  • Feed your children fruits and veggies to support healthy vision. Leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens, as well as fish like salmon, tuna and halibut have been shown to improve eye health.
     

Maintaining proper eye health throughout the year is crucial to a child’s education and growth. Start the school year right and make it a priority to get your child a comprehensive eye exam at Coastal Jersey Eye Center.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget. For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, please call the Linwood office at 609.927.3373 or 609.465.7926 for the Cape May Court House office. Visit online at www.CoastalJerseyEye.com.