Our mission is saving the sight of diabetic patients who might otherwise suffer the vision impairment of diabetic retinopathy (DR). We know – and we wish we could communicate this to patients – that DR even in its more advanced stages might have no symptoms. In fact, when symptoms occur, it’s generally too late to restore normal vision.
Will every diabetic patient face diabetic retinopathy? Of course not. But which ones will? There’s only one way to know: Each patient must have his or her retinas examined annually so those in danger can be referred to an eye specialist. What we do know is that digital retinal imaging in the primary care setting is the best way to ensure that most patients will have an annual retinal evaluation.
Once those patients at risk for vision loss have been identified and referred for specialty eye care, they must actually make the appointment and see the specialist. And then, should treatment be recommended, the patient must follow through with the treatment.
It’s a lot to ask, yet taking care of the eyes is only one small part of diabetes management. As is true with any chronic disease, diabetes necessitates lifestyle changes, a support system, and absolute commitment to monitoring and follow-through. Is that the reason so many diabetic patients live in denial and do little or nothing to manage their symptoms and protect their health? We’ve been wondering about that: How do you motivate an individual to manage a disease when nothing hurts?
We’ll be on the lookout for articles and studies touching on this subject, beginning today with an article by Ann Pappert on the Healthy Day web site. It’s about the general denial of the urgency to manage one’s diabetes. We encourage you to read the entire article.