November is National Diabetes Month

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – If you are one of the more than 26 million Americans with diabetes, you know the importance of watching your diet and keeping track of your blood sugar. But, did you know it’s also important to have regular eye exams?

Diabetes is the leading cause of death, disability, and blindness in the United States. Diabetes currently afflicts 8 percent of the American population and is growing. It is expected to affect 10 percent of adults worldwide by 2030. More than one in 10 West Virginia adults has diabetes, ranking the state in the top five nationally.

All people with diabetes – both type 1 and type 2 and pregnant women with diabetes – are at risk for eye-related problems. The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will get diabetic retinopathy. Between 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy.

Typically, diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. But, the disease can be detected early through a comprehensive dilated eye exam, which should be conducted annually. During the procedure, an eye professional will put drops into the eye to dilate (widen) the pupil, which allows a closer look at the retina.

“Vision loss and blindness from diabetic retinopathy is preventable in up to 95 percent of cases with early diagnosis and treatment,” Ronald Gross, M.D., director of the WVU Eye Institute and chair of the WVU Department of Ophthalmology, said. “If we can find it, we can successfully treat most people. The key is to get checked. If no one looks for diabetic retinopathy, it will not be discovered.”  

There are several effective treatment options, including laser surgery and injections.  

The medical and surgical retina service at the WVU Eye Institute offers the latest in diagnostic and treatment care. The Institute’s doctors specialize in retinal detachments, diabetic eye disease, macular diseases, vitreous surgery, and much more.

The WVU Eye Institute provides the full range of eye care under one roof — from routine exams to subspecialty medical and surgical treatment and laser vision correction. Each year, the Eye Institute treats more than 35,000 West Virginians and patients from surrounding states.  

To learn more about the Eye Institute or to make an appointment, call 304-598-4820 or visit

National Diabetes Month is a national eye health observance established by the National Eye Institute (NEI). During National Diabetes Month, NEI is increasing awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and treatment through outreach efforts aimed at the general public.

For more information: Angela Jones-Knopf, News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
st: 11-06-14