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EyeCare America Provides Free Dilated Eye Exams During Diabetes Awareness Month in November
Date:11/3/2008

Dilated Eye Exams Help Protect Seniors with Diabetes from Vision Loss

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Diabetes continues to be a growing epidemic in the United States. Currently, an estimated 17.9 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. However, another 5.7 million people are unaware they even have the disease and 57 million people are at risk of getting the disease.

What many of these individuals may not know is that all people with diabetes -- both type 1 and type 2 -- are at risk for getting diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of vision loss among adults in the United States. In fact, people with diabetes are 25 times more likely to lose their vision than those without the disease. In addition, the longer a person has diabetes, the more likely it is for him or her to have diabetic retinopathy. Between 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some form of diabetic retinopathy.

In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month this November, EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, encourages people age 65 and older to take advantage of its Diabetes EyeCare Program. This year-round program offers dilated eye exams and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost to qualified patients. To see if you, a loved one or a friend, is eligible to receive a referral to one of EyeCare America's 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists, call 1-800-272-EYES (3937). EyeCare America's help lines are open 24 hours a day, every day, year round.

"Diabetes causes up to 24,000 new cases of vision loss each year," said C. Pat Wilkinson, MD, ophthalmologist and chairman of EyeCare America's Diabetes EyeCare Program. "What people don't know is that early detection, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care can reduce their risk of blindness by 95 percent even for people with established and significant diabetic retinopathy."

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SOURCE Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
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