MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults in the United States. Fortunately, there are effective treatments to help prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease, but early detection and timely treatment are critically important. During American Diabetes Month this November, the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the West Virginia University Eye Institute encourage people with diabetes to take steps to prevent complications of diabetes.

According to recent studies funded by the NEI, diabetic retinopathy – one of the most common and debilitating complications of diabetes – increased by 3.7 million new cases over the last decade. Approximately 7.7 million Americans are now affected by diabetic retinopathy. The rate is projected to climb to 11 million by 2030. People with diabetes are also at greater risk for cataracts, which is a clouding of the eye lens, and glaucoma, which damages the optic nerve. But diabetic retinopathy is the most common sight-threatening condition among people with diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness in adults aged 20 to 74 years.

In addition to controlling blood glucose and blood pressure through healthy eating, adequate exercise and medication, people with diabetes should have annual dilated eye exams to identify early signs of diabetic retinopathy and other diabetic eye disease.

Glaucoma is the number one cause of preventable, irreversible blindness. Screening for glaucoma is easy and painless and allows us to monitor the eye for signs of disease,” Kenneth Mitchell, M.D., glaucoma specialists at the WVU Eye Institute, said. “According to the National Eye Institute, 90 percent of diabetes-related blindness is preventable through early detection, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care.”  

People with diabetes need a comprehensive dilated eye examination at least once a year. If you have diabetes, the WVU Eye Institute encourages you to speak with your healthcare provider about an annual eye examination with your ophthalmologist or call the WVU Eye Institute to arrange for a comprehensive eye exam at 304-598-4820.

To learn more about diabetic eye disease or to help a friend or family member, visit the National Eye Institute at
For more information: Angela Jones, News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
st: 11-07-12