NEW YORK—Thousands of eyecare professionals across the country stepped up to help patients and caregivers learn more about how diabetes can affect the eyes. To bring attention to the ways in which diabetes can affect the eyes, Prevent Blindness has put together a series of resources for ECPs and patients, including a "Diabetes and the Eye" toolkit that can help manage the conversations. The no-cost educational toolkit, “Diabetes and the Eyes,” includes fact sheets, shareable infographics for social media, and financial assistance resources to increase access to eyecare.

For health care professionals, community organizers, and more, an educator course is also available, including a PowerPoint presentation and script—all made possible by funding from the Allergan Foundation.

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Also this month, VSP Vision Care and the American Diabetes Association announced a new multi-year partnership to raise awareness of diabetes and eyecare. The new public health initiative, announced during November's Diabetes Awareness Month will be a collaboration to focus on eye disease, an often overlooked but costly and devastating complication of diabetes.
The initiative will focus on the crucial role annual comprehensive eye exams play in the early detection, intervention and prevention of eye disease and vision loss caused by diabetes, the two organizations said in a joint statement. “Diabetic eye disease is one of the complications of diabetes, affecting a third or more of people with diabetes over age 40,” said Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “Fortunately, we can effectively manage and even prevent diabetic eye disease with early detection and treatment. With VSP, we are positioned to make this happen. Preventing these complications is key.”

According to ADA, there are 30 million American adults living with diabetes. Another 84 million are living with prediabetes, yet 90 percent of them don’t know they have it. People living with diabetes or prediabetes face increased risk for glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in working age adults.

The cost of diabetes to individuals and society continues to skyrocket, with an economic burden on the health care system in the U.S. estimated at $139 billion for vision related disorders alone. For those living with diabetes, an annual eye exam is a must as it can prevent or delay disease and vision loss caused by diabetes.

In addition, ECPs across the country have taken to social media to educate their patients on Diabetes Awareness Month and how diabetes can affect the eyes.