Prevent Blindness America and Prevent Blindness Texas Host Briefing on Diabetes and Eye Health

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AUSTIN, Texas— Prevent Blindness America (PBA) and its affiliate, Prevent Blindness Texas, held a briefing at the Legislative Conference Center here this week to present data from a new Texas University of Medicine study depicting the dangers of diabetic macular edema, specifically applied to commercial drivers. Titled “Eyes on the Road: Diabetes’ Impact on Vision and Work,” the educational briefing aimed to educate lawmakers and the public on the issue, featuring comments by the study’s leader, Retina Consultants of Houston ophthalmologists Sunir S. Patel, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor at Texas Tech University of Medicine, who led the study, and David M. Brown, MD.

The study, Truck Drivers Suffer Significant Economic Burden Due to Diabetic Macular Edema, which was presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2013 Annual meeting last week, found that those in the commercial truck driving industry were at heightened risk for developing diabetes and diabetic macular edema (DME) due to their sedentary lifestyle and limited access to healthy food, along with lack of insulin therapy due to perceptions surrounding regulations on commercial vehicle operation and insulin use. The study also found that the mean total annualized out-of-pocket costs for diabetes-and DME-related care was $4,743.

“Diabetes affects more than just our bodies. It can impact our ability to maintain a career or even earn a living," said Debbie Goss, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness Texas. "The economic impact from this study alone should serve as a wake-up call to the public and our public servants that this issue must be addressed today in order to protect our future. We look forward to expanding on this study to demonstrate how imperative it is to continue to fund research and expand programs related to this epidemic disease.”

To avoid a worsening condition, PBA recommends that diabetic individuals get a dilated eye exam every year, maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure and watch and control blood sugar levels.

For further recommendations, information on diabetic eye disease or more on the educational briefing, visit www.preventblindnesstexas.org or call (888) 98-SIGHT.