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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

Leave The Fireworks To The Professionals This Summer

Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks. But along with the festivities are plenty of visits to emergency rooms due to fireworks accidents.

June is Fireworks Eye Safety Month and protecting children from the dangers of fireworks should be a top priority for every parent. Over 10,000 fireworks injuries requiring an emergency room visit occur annually. 

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fireworks incidents caused nearly 1,300 eye-related injuries to Americans in 2018. Children are frequent victims, with 35 percent sustaining fireworks injuries under the age of 15.

Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, including sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles.

Note to parents of young children: Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers were responsible for most of the injuries to children age five and younger.

Eye injuries can be very serious and possibly blinding. Many of these injuries occur to bystanders. The best prevention is simply to avoid using fireworks and attend a professional light show instead. And, of course, never let your child handle fireworks of any type, even sparklers.

For those who do handle fireworks, the CPSC estimates that 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented through use of suitable protective eyewear.

In the event an eye injury occurs, seek medical help right away. Avoid rubbing or rinsing the eye, and refrain from applying pressure to the eye or any type of ointment.

Playing with fireworks can blind you or your loved ones. That’s why it’s important to avoid consumer fireworks altogether and leave it to the professionals this summer!

June 27, 2019