Diabetes is a serious health condition all too frequently seen in Eastern Kentucky. In fact, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, nearly one in five people have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Unfortunately, many diabetic patients across the region also find themselves battling vision loss that has been attributed to diabetes. Statistics recently published by the CDC state that 90% of blindness caused by diabetes is preventable, which offers hope to those who take managing their diabetes seriously.

Optometrists at the Appalachian Center for Advanced Eye Care at Pikeville Medical Center treat many patients who have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes complication that affects the eyes which often leads to blindness.  However, early detection and timely treatment of diabetic retinopathy has been found to be effective in slowing down or preventing blindness.

“It is recommended that anyone diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should schedule an eye exam immediately,” explained Ryan Kern, OD. “There is a common misconception that diabetic eye examinations are only performed by ophthalmologists, but that is not the case. Optometrists regularly perform diabetic eye exams, and in most cases, can see patients much sooner than ophthalmologists who may not have an appointment availability for several weeks or even months.”

Careful management of diabetes is the best way to prevent vision loss. Diabetic patients are strongly encouraged to have eye exams with dilation on a yearly basis, even when their vision seems fine. Discovering diabetic retinopathy early allows patients the opportunity to take steps to protect their vision and delay or even prevent vision loss.