Chicago Patient Urges Others to Get Screened for Eye Disease Before it's Too Late

Slit-lamp-examination

Chicago resident Thaddeus Hall has been living with diabetes for over 20 years, but like many patients had done little to manage his condition, until problems began to arise with his vision.

"I was in denial about my diabetes for years and failed to be in compliance with taking my insulin, other prescribed medications, and not having the recommended annual dilated eye exam," said Hall, Executive Assistant to the pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Church and Chicago resident.

Four months ago, Hall, 48, was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease affecting more than 4.4 million Americans age 40 and older. Like almost a third of Americans living with diabetes, Hall did not know he had the disease until vision loss began to set in.

Over the last three years Hall noticed his vision began to deteriorate. He recalls having family and friends read small print to him and help him identify colors when coordinating his clothes. He also found himself using a magnifying glass behind closed doors and had problems reading the words on the television. "One day I woke up and it took longer than usual for my vision to become focused, at this time I told myself I had to get my eyes checked," added Hall.

He visited his ophthalmologist, an Eye M.D. who quickly discovered that Hall's diabetes had taken a severe toll on his vision. "The ophthalmologist told me that over the years, scar tissue had developed and that I was lucky that I came in because my retina had detached, which would require immediate surgery." Today Hall has regained some of his sight but still has very limited vision in his right eye. He prays his vision will be restored after his next surgery.

Most eye diseases like Hall's diabetic retinopathy are treatable if detected early. In fact, up to 80 percent of all blindness can be prevented by early treatment.

To protect against vision loss, Chicago-area ophthalmologist Dr. David Palmer urges all of his patients to have a comprehensive eye exam by age 40. "But if you have existing risk factors like diabetes or a family history of eye disease, it's important to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible," added Dr. Palmer.

Thaddeus Hall would agree. "Had I gotten checked earlier, I could have avoided all of these problems entirely," said Hall. "I encourage people to be proactive and not reactive. Get your eyes checked before it's too late."

Chicago residents can take control of their vision by getting a free eye screening on June 11. The free vision screening will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church at 4301 W. Washington Blvd. in Chicago. The event is sponsored by The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology.

Additional EyeSmart EyeCheck screenings will be taking place in Texas and Florida this year. To learn more about EyeCheck, call 773.287.5051.

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