MISSISSAUGA, ON, Nov. 9, 2011 /CNW/ - November is Diabetes Awareness
Month and the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) is reminding
the public about the importance of routine eye exams—especially for
those living with diabetes.
Approximately 1.2 million Ontarians have diabetes and as many as 200,000
people are unaware they have it. In fact, according to the Canadian
Diabetes Association by 2020 1 in 3 Canadians will have diabetes,
putting them at an increased risk for serious health complications such
as eye disease and potential blindness. Eye disease can be managed and
often prevented by visiting an eye care professional every year.
"Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness among adults,"
said Dr. Anju Clement, optometrist and member of the OAO. "Patients
with eye disease may not notice any changes in their vision, especially
during the early treatable stages of the disease. That's why visiting
an optometrist is essential for early detection and timely treatment."
Statistics show that only about 50 per cent of people living with type 1
and type 2 diabetes had their eyes checked in the last year, even
though annual eye examinations are covered by the Ontario Health
Insurance Plan. Those most likely not to have had an eye exam in the
past year were people aged 20 to 64 and those living in urban areas.
Under the Ontario Diabetes Strategy, the OAO is partnering with the
Ministry of Health and the Diabetes Regional Control Centres to ensure
that people with diabetes have necessary tests for optimal diabetes
management, including a comprehensive eye exam.
While people with diabetes are more likely to develop eye problems such
as cataracts and glaucoma, they are also more susceptible to retinal
complications that can threaten vision.
By dilating the eye, optometrists can detect diabetic retinopathy, a
damaging eye condition that causes the blood vessels at the back of the
eye to leak or swell. If left untreated, it can result in loss of
vision or blindness. Comprehensive eye examinations provided by
optometrists are insured by the Ontario government every year for
people of all ages with diabetes, and a referral is not required.
Patients with diabetes who are able to maintain appropriate blood sugar
levels have fewer eye problems than those with poor control. Research
has proven that good control can slow the onset of eye complications,
such as diabetic retinopathy. Diet and exercise also play important
roles in the overall health of those with diabetes. But the best way to
catch early eye problems is to visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist
Dr. Clement adds that other health issues may be discovered during an
eye exam. "A dilated eye exam is the only time blood vessels can be
seen in their natural state. Sometimes, this allows us to uncover signs
that may save someone's life."
To learn more about comprehensive eye examinations or to find an
optometrist, please visit the OAO website at www.optom.on.ca or call 1-800-540-3837.
For over 100 years, the OAO has been the voluntary professional
organization representing optometrists in Ontario in matters of
advocacy, community and education. The OAO represents over 1,500
optometrists who practise in over 200 towns and cities across Ontario
and are the main providers of primary eye care in Ontario.
SOURCE Ontario Association of Optometrists
For further information:
Government Relations Manager
Ontario Association of Optometrists
905-826-3522 Ext. 223