Diabetes is more widespread than most people realize. The American Diabetes Association estimates that over 30 million Americans have diabetes – and about a quarter of them don’t even know it. About 1 in 5 people first learn that they have diabetes during an eye exam.
Eye Exams can Reveal Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy
When an eye care specialist examines the eye during an exam they may spot little leaks and breaks in the small blood vessels in the eye. These are telltale signs of diabetic retinopathy, a serious complication of diabetes. About one third of people with diabetes have some degree of diabetic retinopathy. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases every year a person has lived with diabetes.
Diabetic Retinopathy Causes Blindness if Left Untreated
Diabetic eye complications, such as retinopathy, can be severe. Untreated diabetic retinopathy is one of the top causes of blindness worldwide. Unfortunately, there are no changes in eyesight, or other obvious symptoms, until the disease has progressed enough that the vision loss is permanent. If a diabetic waits until vision changes are noticed, they can’t be reversed. However, diabetic retinopathy can be detected during an eye exam. If treated before vision loss occurs, blindness can be prevented.
Diabetic Retinopathy is Costly
One study in 2017 found that overall medical costs for people with diabetic retinopathy were significantly higher than diabetics without it. Even other diabetic complications, such as kidney disease, didn’t have the same financial impact on medical bills as diabetic retinopathy.
Vision loss has a significant impact not only on a senior’s pocketbook, but also on their quality of life. Giving up sight-based activities, such as reading, looking at family photos, video calls, hobbies and driving can be a big blow to a senior’s mental wellbeing. Vision loss has been linked to challenges with mental health, reduced cognition and an increased risk of falls and injuries.
Vision Loss from Diabetic Retinopathy can be Prevented
Thankfully, vision loss can be prevented in 95% of cases if caught in time. The only way to catch diabetic retinopathy in its early, treatable stages is to report for routine eye exams. Experts recommended yearly eye exams in most circumstances. Routine eye exams are a simple and effective way to prevent new or worsening vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.
Getting to Routine Appointments can be a Challenge
Seniors often have trouble getting to appointments for various reasons. Some no longer drive, and even those who do may not be comfortable or safe driving themselves home after a dilated eye examination. Other seniors have health conditions that make going out for appointments especially challenging or exhausting.
Elder Care can Help
For seniors who have difficulty getting to medical appointments, elder care can be a life saver. Elder care aides can:
- Come to the senior’s home
- Help the senior get ready for an appointment if needed.
- Help the senior in and out of the car
- Load a walker or lightweight wheelchair into the car
- Drive the senior to the appointment
- Help with toileting or other needs while out and about
- Wait with the senior during the appointment in the exam room or waiting room
- Drive the senior home and help them get safely settled in afterward
Enlisting the help of elder care is an easy way to take the trouble out of getting to routine eye exams and other appointments. It can be a great investment in a senior’s quality of life.
If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Jacksonville, FL, call Griswold Home Care
and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (904) 342-6040