November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Story Credit: American Diabetes Association

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans

  • Almost 1/3 of diabetics don’t know they have the disease and are at risk for vision loss and other health problems.

  • The most common diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy which affects 5.3 million Americans age 18 and older.

  • Once diagnosed with diabetes, you should schedule a complete eye exam, including dilation.

  • Early diagnosis of diabetes can help reduce your risk of developing eye disease related to diabetes.

 

Eye Insight

To understand what happens in eye disorders, it helps to understand how the eye works. The eye is a ball covered with a tough outer membrane. The covering in front is clear and curved. This curved area is the cornea, which focuses light while protecting the eye.

After light passes through the cornea, it travels through a space called the anterior chamber (which is filled with a protective fluid called the aqueous humor), through the pupil (which is a hole in the iris, the colored part of the eye), and then through a lens that performs more focusing. Finally, light passes through another fluid-filled chamber in the center of the eye (the vitreous) and strikes the back of the eye, the retina.

The retina records the images focused on it and converts those images into electrical signals, which the brain receives and decodes.

One part of the retina is specialized for seeing fine detail. This tiny area of extra-sharp vision is called the macula. Blood vessels in and behind the retina nourish the macula.

Glaucoma

People with diabetes are 40% more likely to suffer from glaucoma than people without diabetes. The longer someone has had diabetes, the more common glaucoma is. Risk also increases with age.

Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. In most cases, the pressure causes drainage of the aqueous humor to slow down so that it builds up in the anterior chamber. The pressure pinches the blood vessels that carry blood to the retina and optic nerve. Vision is gradually lost because the retina and nerve are damaged.

There are several treatments for glaucoma. Some use drugs to reduce pressure in the eye, while others involve surgery.

Cataracts

Many people without diabetes get cataracts, but people with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop this eye condition. People with diabetes also tend to get cataracts at a younger age and have them progress faster. With cataracts, the eye’s clear lens clouds, blocking light.

To help deal with mild cataracts, you may need to wear sunglasses more often and use glare-control lenses in your glasses. For cataracts that interfere greatly with vision, doctors usually remove the lens of the eye. Sometimes the patient gets a new transplanted lens. In people with diabetes, retinopathy can get worse after removal of the lens, and glaucoma may start to develop.

Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. There are two major types of retinopathy: nonproliferative and proliferative.

Nonproliferative retinopathy

In nonproliferative retinopathy, the most common form of retinopathy, capillaries in the back of the eye balloon and form pouches. Nonproliferative retinopathy can move through three stages (mild, moderate, and severe), as more and more blood vessels become blocked.

Macular edema

Although retinopathy does not usually cause vision loss at this stage, the capillary walls may lose their ability to control the passage of substances between the blood and the retina. Fluid can leak into the part of the eye where focusing occurs, the macula. When the macula swells with fluid, a condition called macula edema, vision blurs and can be lost entirely. Although nonproliferative retinopathy usually does not require treatment, macular edema must be treated, but fortunately treatment is usually effective at stopping and sometimes reversing vision loss.

Proliferative retinopathy

In some people, retinopathy progresses after several years to a more serious form called proliferative retinopathy. In this form, the blood vessels are so damaged they close off. In response, new blood vessels start growing in the retina. These new vessels are weak and can leak blood, blocking vision, which is a condition called vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels can also cause scar tissue to grow. After the scar tissue shrinks, it can distort the retina or pull it out of place, a condition called retinal detachment.

How is it Treated?

Huge strides have been made in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Treatments such as scatter photocoagulation, focal photocoagulation, and vitrectomy prevent blindness in most people. The sooner retinopathy is diagnosed, the more likely these treatments will be successful. The best results occur when sight is still normal.

In photocoagulation, the eye care professional makes tiny burns on the retina with a special laser. These burns seal the blood vessels and stop them from growing and leaking.

In scatter photocoagulation (also called panretinal photocoagulation), the eye care professional makes hundreds of burns in a polka-dot pattern on two or more occasions. Scatter photocoagulation reduces the risk of blindness from vitreous hemorrhage or detachment of the retina, but it only works before bleeding or detachment has progressed very far. This treatment is also used for some kinds of glaucoma.

Side effects of scatter photocoagulation are usually minor. They include several days of blurred vision after each treatment and possible loss of side (peripheral) vision.

In focal photocoagulation, the eye care professional aims the laser precisely at leaking blood vessels in the macula. This procedure does not cure blurry vision caused by macular edema. But it does keep it from getting worse.

When the retina has already detached or a lot of blood has leaked into the eye, photocoagulation is no longer useful. The next option is vitrectomy, which is surgery to remove scar tissue and cloudy fluid from inside the eye. The earlier the operation occurs, the more likely it is to be successful. When the goal of the operation is to remove blood from the eye, it usually works. Reattaching a retina to the eye is much harder and works in only about half the cases.

There are two types of treatment for macular edema: focal laser therapy that slows the leakage of fluid, and medications that can be injected into the eye that slow the growth of new blood vessels and reduce the leakage of fluid into the macula.

Am I at Risk for Retinopathy?

Several factors influence whether you get retinopathy:

  • blood sugar control
  • blood pressure levels
  • how long you have had diabetes
  • genes

The longer you’ve had diabetes, the more likely you are to have retinopathy. Almost everyone with type 1 diabetes will eventually have nonproliferative retinopathy. And most people with type 2 diabetes will also get it. But the retinopathy that destroys vision, proliferative retinopathy, is far less common.

People who keep their blood sugar levels closer to normal are less likely to have retinopathy or to have milder forms.

Your retina can be badly damaged before you notice any change in vision. Most people with nonproliferative retinopathy have no symptoms. Even with proliferative retinopathy, the more dangerous form, people sometimes have no symptoms until it is too late to treat them. For this reason, you should have your eyes examined regularly by an eye care professional.

 

You may have heard that diabetes causes eye problems and may lead to blindness. People with diabetes do have a higher risk of blindness than people without diabetes. But most people who have diabetes have nothing more than minor eye disorders.

With regular checkups, you can keep minor problems minor. And if you do develop a major problem, there are treatments that often work well if you begin them right away. Please visit your health professional regularly.


For Additional Information: Please visit the American Diabetes Association website.

 

Dine in the Dark


Thank you for another great year!


Special thanks to all our sponsors and underwriters, including 2019’s Title Sponsor,

 

Whether from personal experience, a family member, friend, or acquaintance, practically everyone is touched by the reality of blindness or low vision. Realizing the ongoing need for blind and low vision awareness within our community, Vision Resource Center of Berks County along with the Kutztown University Teachers of the Visually Impaired hosted Dine in the Dark on Thursday, September 26th, 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Reading. The positive community support of this evening’s event allowed Vision Resource Center of Berks County and the Kutztown University Visual Impairment Program the continued opportunity to help blind and visually impaired children and adults in our community.

If you would like more information about future Dine in the Dark events, including sponsorship opportunities, please contact Carolyn Krick: 610-375-8407 ext. 110 (ckrick@vrcberks.org) or Bill Sutton: 610-375-8407 ext. 117 (bsutton@vrcberks.org).

Your continued support allows Vision Resource Center of Berks County and the Kutztown University Visual Impairment Program the ongoing opportunity to help blind and visually impaired children and adults in our community.

 

2019 Title Sponsor – WFMZ

2019 Gold Sponsor – Berks • Fire • Water Restorations, Inc.

 

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s event but would still like to donate to it, please click on a link below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insight on BCTV: Transitioning Into a Senior Living Facility with a Visual Impairment

Mark Levengood discusses transitioning into a senior living facility with a visual impairment with Vision Resource Center client Jerry Cunningham. Watch October 2019’s BCTV’s Insight here…

View on BCTV.org

 

 

October is Blindness Awareness Month

October is Blindness Awareness Month

Story Credit: Rich Shea, Foundation Fighting Blindness

Back in the 1970s and ’80s, when the Foundation Fighting Blindness was in its formative years, blind people on TV and in movies usually fit the stereotype — dark glasses, a cane, stumbling along the sidewalk. While that one-dimensional portrayal is no longer politically correct, there are still many misconceptions about people who are blind and visually impaired, including just how many there are.

Throughout October, which is Blind Awareness Month, FFB hopes to help put those misconceptions to rest. For instance, worldwide there are 285 million people who are visually impaired, 39 million of whom are completely blind. In fact, the vast majority of the 10 million Americans who have retinal diseases — those affecting the ultra-thin tissue at the back of the eye — have at least some vision. Only it’s progressively getting worse — for some quickly, for others gradually. Some are losing peripheral and night vision, others central vision.

Which is the whole point of Blindness Awareness Month — those affected are individuals, with their own lives, dreams and hopes.

DID YOU KNOW:

  • Worldwide there are 285 million people who are visually impaired, 39 million of whom are completely blind.
  • Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
  • Blindness or low vision affects 3.3 million Americans age 40 and over. This figure is projected to reach 5.5 million by the year 2020.

For Additional Information: Visit American Federation of the Blind and Foundation Fighting Blindness.

 

Insight on BCTV: Eating with a Visual Impairment

Host Mark Levengood discusses Dine in the Dark and eating with a visual impairment, with special guest Hazel Sensenig. Watch September 2019’s BCTV’s Insight here…

View on BCTV.org

 

 

Insight on BCTV: Dine in the Dark 2019

Mark Levengood discusses Dine in the Dark 2019 with Lori Schermerhorn from VRC and Dave Meas from Berks Fire + Water Restoration. Watch August 2019’s BCTV’s Insight here…

View on BCTV.org

 

 

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Story Credit: Consumer Health Digest

August is dedicated to preventing eye injuries and vision loss and saving children’s eyesight. One of 20 children ages 3 to 5 has a vision problem that could result in permanent vision if left untreated. Despite this unsettling statistics, 80 percent of preschoolers do not receive an eye screening. Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month encourages parents to learn how to protect their child’s eyesight and save their child’s eyesight from vision threatening conditions through regular eye exams, hence early detection and proper treatment. According to Craig Hensle, MD, President of the Virginia Society of Ophthalmology, eye exams for children are important because vision changes can occur without you or your child noticing.

 

Purpose of Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month

Parents should make their child’s vision health a priority, which is why the main objectives of Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month are to:

  • Spread Information On The Importance Of Healthy Vision – Many activities gear towards family-friendly resources that help parents take care of their child’s eye sight and keep it healthy.
  • Know More About Early Detection Of Vision Problems In Children – Impart the red flags that a child may have a vision problem, such as uneven focus, amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes). Early detection of vision conditions is crucial. Lazy eye is often corrected if treatment started at an early age; however, successful treatment is rarely achieved if treatment has started after a child reaches 8 or 9 years old.
  • Raise Awareness About Preventing Eye Injuries In Children – In addition to eye diseases and conditions, you can also protect your children from sports-related eye injuries. About 100,000 sports-related eye injuries happen every day, where in one-third of these injuries occur in children under age 16. 90% could have been avoided if the child had worn protective eyewear, such as polycarbonate lenses fitted by an eye care professional. These lenses can withstand a ball traveling 90mph as it is 20 times stronger than ordinary eyeglasses.
  • Save Children’s Eyesight – Teach parents to help their child correct their vision and recover from vision loss.

 

What You can do on Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month?

Having a month dedicated to knowing about your child’s eye health and safety can make a big difference to your child’s health and life. Based on the key objectives of this awareness month, you can do so much more to help raise awareness about vision diseases and eye conditions in children, as well as how to prevent them. To do a quick involvement, you can do your own research online and use the social media to share good and factual information to others. You can also support eye health and safety education program and sight-saving programs, which are designed specifically for children.

 

Message on Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month

Children Eye Health

Children should have an eye exam at 6 months and this must be repeated at age 3. Once they start school, eye exams must be done regularly. About 80% of what children learn in school is taught visually, which means if a child has undetected and uncorrected vision problem, it will affect the child’s development and performances in school. Some warning signs that your child may be experiences vision problems are:

  • Tilting the head or squinting to see the class board better or when watching TV
  • Frequent eye rubbing when he’s trying to concentrate on something.
  • Holding a book too close to his eyes or often sitting close to the TV.
  • Consistently using his fingers to guide his eyes when reading.
  • Closing one eye to read or watch TV.
  • Excessive tearing without any tear-causing stimuli.
  • Eye discomfort when using a computer or any digital device i.e digital eye strain.
  • Sensitivity to light, which sometimes accompanied by headache or nausea.
  • Wandering eyes.

 

Special Tips on Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month

Aside from keeping a watchful eye for some of the warning signs listed above, protect your child from eye injuries by ensuring your children’s toys are age-appropriate and not a danger to their eyes. Check if your child’s toys or stuff are free of sharp or protruding parts that could accidentally poke the eyes. Fireworks are also detrimental to your child’s safety, as it can cause blindness if not handled correctly.

 

Conclusion

It’s your responsibility as a parent to know how you can keep your child’s vision healthy and obtain early diagnosis in case your child is suffering from vision problems through a regular eye exam. Also, be aware that eye injuries can happen anytime, anywhere. Eye injuries are often caused by sports or physical activities, so know proper precautions such as wearing protective eyewear when playing sports.

 


About Consumer Health Digest: Consumer Health Digest presents health related content to individuals looking to improve their overall health and well-being. All of the content appearing on Consumer Health Digest’s website is produced, selected, and reviewed by health writers and editors. Consumer Health Digest focuses on providing valuable health information and savings on health-related products for better managing your health.

 

National Sunglasses Day

For #NationalSunglassesDay, #VRCberks CEO Lori Schermerhorn gave Olivet Boys & Girls Club some summer safety measures to follow for #UVsafety as part of a series created by Legacy Logistics to spread awareness of long-term vision health. Kids were sporting their brand new UV-resistant ICU Eyewear they received in their goody bags on the way outside for Sweet Ride Ice Cream, LLC and to strike a pose for WFMZ TV cameras #VisionCouncil #UVSafetyAwarenessMonth #LegacyLogistics

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Insight on BCTV: Appropriate vs. Inappropriate Interactions

Mark Levengood discusses Appropriate vs. Inappropriate Interactions with the Visually Impaired with Scott Maulick, a long-time client at VRC. Watch July 2019’s BCTV’s Insight here…

View on BCTV.org