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August 10, 2010

Statement from the American Academy of Ophthalmology regarding Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy in the United States, an Analysis of 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy) considers this study reliable evidence that diabetic retinopathy and vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy are increasing in adults over age 40 in the United States and that more Americans, especially non-Hispanic black Americans, will be vulnerable to potentially-blinding diabetic retinopathy in coming years. The Academy reminds those who have diabetes or are at risk for the disease–especially people with black, Latino, Native American or Pacific Islander heritage–that having an annual dilated eye exam by an Eye M.D. (ophthalmologist) is an important step toward protecting their eyes and vision, along with proper medical care, careful glycemic (blood sugar) control, and other lifestyle choices that reduce the health impacts of diabetes.

As this study concludes, the US will likely face a growing need for diabetes-related eye care, and particularly for new care models that address limited access and other disparities linked to higher diabetic retinopathy in minority populations. The Academy's EyeSmart EyeCheck campaign addresses this need by providing free screenings to communities considered at high risk for eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy. Through the EyeCare America program, the Academy works toward insuring that Americans age 65 and older receive appropriate care, often at no cost, for vision-threatening illnesses.

The study, published August 11, 2010 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), was supported by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); funding for the NHANES retinal component was provided by Division of Diabetes Translation, CDC, and the vision component was funded by the National Eye Institute, National Institute of Health.

Media: Spokespeople are available to comment.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
AAO is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 29,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s”— opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at www.aao.org

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