Saving Sight: An Exam Now Can Mean Vision Later

"Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today." While commonly used as a motivational technique, the sentiment also applies to physician-patient conversations about chronic conditions, such as diabetes. Often overwhelmed with multiple challenges, many people with diabetes prioritize the health issues they can see and feel right now – leaving unseen health issues for the future.

If you have diabetes, you may already know it takes a bit of extra attention and care to maintain the health of your eyes. You may also know certain eye conditions associated with diabetes can result in vision loss. However, what you may not know is that a condition known as diabetic macular edema (DME) is a leading cause of blindness for people with diabetes.

DME, a result of damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye, is a serious eye condition that, when left untreated, can lead to blindness. Though anyone with diabetes is at risk for developing DME, you may be at an even higher risk if you have had diabetes for more than 10 years, or if you frequently experience high blood sugar or fasting blood glucose levels.

I was also dealing with being diabetic and what that meant in terms of other challenges that could present like heart problems or kidney problems or anything like that. So there were a lot of things I had to think about, and I thought, ‘just get me through the eyes, I can do whatever it takes.’ And that, pretty much, is my attitude.

- Converted

Because DME is often asymptomatic, the only way to detect the 
condition is through an annual retina (dilated) eye exam. Although this routine exam can help you take care of your eyes and may prevent devastating vision loss, one out of four people skip their annual retina eye exam, putting themselves at risk for vision loss.

Make your eye health a priority

To better understand why people aren’t always getting the critical care they need, we partnered with Diabetic Connect, the world's largest online social network for people and families living with diabetes, to survey 1,674 Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients. The survey identified a significant gap in the understanding of diabetes and vision loss, and shed light on the importance of educating people with diabetes about an annual retina eye exam.

Here are some of the results of that survey:

We're on a mission

Genentech is on a mission to change the way people with diabetes think about their eyes. A variety of different health care providers play an important role in changing patient perceptions. We're encouraging all of them to take action now.

Take action. Today.

The message is simple. “Don’t wait” — taking action early can help prevent vision loss. We encourage people with diabetes to prioritize their eyes and protect their sight by visiting a retina specialist every year to get a retina eye exam.

On a personal level, it doesn't only affect you, it affects your whole family. People need to know about this. We need people to stay working, keep their jobs. I lost mine because I lost my vision.

- Melissa Quinn, Commercial Truck Driver

We will continue to focus on better understanding the needs of people at risk for DME. And we'll continue to stress the importance of eye health. Join us. Spread the word, and help people protect their sight.