CHICAGO—A recent study titled, “Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy in the US in 2021,” estimated that more than 26 percent of people with diabetes had diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy, the most common form of diabetes-related eye disease, is the leading cause of blindness in adults age 20–74, according to the National Eye Institute. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that approximately 37.3 million people have diabetes, and 96 million people aged 18 years or older have prediabetes. New CDC research shows that diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are increasing significantly among youth in the U.S.

From 2001 to 2017, the number of people under age 20 living with type 1 diabetes increased by 45 percent, and the number living with type 2 diabetes grew by 95 percent. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk for diabetes-related eye disease.

Prevent Blindness, the nation’s leading nonprofit eye health and safety organization, has declared November as Diabetes-related Eye Disease Awareness Month, providing the public with a variety of helpful tools to prevent unnecessary vision loss from diabetes. The group offers the following at no cost:

Focus on Eye Health Expert Series.
Prevent Blindness has two episodes in its Focus on Eye Health Expert Series dedicated to diabetes and vision: Kristen Nwanyanwu, MD, MBA, MHS, associate professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Yale School of Medicine, discusses “Health Disparities and Diabetes-related Eye Disease,” and Neil M. Bressler, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and editor in chief of JAMA Ophthalmology, is featured in “Diabetes and Your Eyes.”

Diabetes + The Eyes Educational Toolkit. Available in English and Spanish, this resource includes Power Point presentations, shareable social media graphics and a dedicated webpage. The Diabetes + The Eyes program, is supported by funding from Regeneron.

Diabetes + The Eyes: Vision Health in Youth Fact Sheet. This new resource provides detailed information on what parents and care partners need to know to help youth with diabetes protect their eye health. This fact sheet was developed with support from UnitedHealthcare. A Spanish version will be available soon.

Prevent Blindness and the Focus on Diabetes video series This comprehensive series includes a variety of educational videos designed for consumer audiences. Focus on Diabetes is an eye health initiative of the American Diabetes Association.

The Patient Perspective: Diabetes-related Eye Disease

Diabetes and Your Eyes ABCs

Newly Diagnosed with Diabetes: What you need to know about your eyes

Introduction to the Diabetes + the Eyes Educational Toolkit

The Gr8 Eye Movement: Prevent Blindness recently collaborated with award-winning actress, dancer and director Debbie Allen and Regeneron for the Gr8 Eye Movement, a new disease awareness campaign that aims to address gaps in how people understand the risk of developing certain serious retinal diseases, including diabetes-related macular edema and diabetes-related retinopathy. Information may be found here.

Diabetes-related Vision Loss and Mental Wellness: Many people who have vision loss or blindness as a result of diabetes also experience a significant, negative impact on their mental health. Prevent Blindness offers the Diabetes, Vision Loss, and Mental Wellness, and the Diabetes-related Eye Disease and Mental Health fact sheet, available in English and Spanish (supported by funding from Regeneron and VSP Vision).

Vision Integration Library: The Center for Vision and Population Health at Prevent Blindness offers the free “Vision Integration Library: Vision and Eye Health Resource Center at Prevent Blindness.” The comprehensive database with updated resources includes listings of vision health programs and resources specifically intended for those in public health, health care and community service providers.

“We know that the number of people at risk for vision loss and blindness from diabetes continues to climb,” said Jeff Todd, Prevent Blindness president and CEO. “The time is now to take the necessary steps to help those with diabetes, and those at risk for developing diabetes, avoid significant vision impairment by providing educational resources and promoting access to affordable eyecare.”

For more information on the “Diabetes + The Eyes” program, click here. For general diabetes-related eye disease information, click here or here.

For a free listing of organizations and services that provide financial assistance for vision care in English or Spanish, click here