AOA and American Diabetes Association Join on Diabetes Awareness Efforts

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. and ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The American Optometric Association (AOA) and American Diabetes Association are recognizing November as National Diabetes Awareness Month. The associations are joining together to raise awareness for the dangers of diabetes to eye health and overall wellness.

The AOA intends to leverage the month to encourage citizens schedule yearly eye exams that aid in detecting diabetic eye disease, an issue most Americans are unaware of due to its difficulty in being identified. According to the AOA’s 2011 American Eye-Q survey, 55 percent of adults in the U.S. are unaware that diabetic eye disease lacks visual symptoms, and 44 percent are unaware that diabetics should have comprehensive eye exams regularly. The Association also sites that diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults aged 20 to 74, with 12,000 to 24,000 people losing their sight to non-detected diabetic disease each year.

"By the year 2020, the number of people suffering from diabetic eye disease is expected to nearly double," said Dr. Madeline Romeu, AOA diabetes eyecare expert. "To that end, the fact that eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy often progress silently, without symptoms, must become common knowledge." According to Romeu, optometrists often serve as the first line of detection for diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association is acknowledging American Diabetes Month with several on- and offline events sponsored by CVS pharmacy. The campaign includes a Facebook Photo Mosaic for which the Association is asking Facebook users to submit photos representing “A Day in the Life of Diabetes.” Images uploaded to the mosaic on the Association’s Facebook page will be projected on the interior of Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13 and 14, coinciding with World Diabetes Day.

“Recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take steps to Stop Diabetes. It is our responsibility to ensure that our youth have the right guidance and resources to get healthy,” said Larry Hausner, CEO, American Diabetes Association. “It is through our awareness activities surrounding American Diabetes Month that we hope to call greater attention to this epidemic that is facing our nation.”

More information about National Diabetes Awareness Month and diabetic eye disease is available on the AOA website and the American Diabetes Association website.