Each November, commemorated as National Diabetes Month, communities across the nation seek to increase public awareness of the many facets of diabetes. This year’s focus is a call to take action to prevent diabetes-related health problems. Diabetes occurs when the blood glucose in the body, also known as blood sugar, is elevated. The disease is the leading cause of blindness in “working age adults.” In addition to causing damage to the eyes, diabetes can also hurt the kidneys, nerves, the heart, and has been linked to some forms of cancer. In terms of vision, the most common diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy. People with the condition are also at higher risk for diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract, and glaucoma. However, the good news is that by “taking charge of your health,” you may be able to prevent complications. With early detection, treatment, and management, the risk of blindness can be lowered by 95 percent. Specific tips that can help include:
– Have a comprehensive, dilated eye exam at least once a year: Your eye doctor can identify problems early when they are most treatable.
– Manage blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels: Managing diabetes as soon as possible after diagnosis can help to prevent related health problems.
– Adopt healthy habits: Lifestyle routines like planning healthy meals, being physically active, and sleeping enough, can result in improved diabetes management.
– Take medicines on time and as prescribed: This is key even for people who do not have symptoms.
– Maintain a healthy weight: Individuals who are overweight can work with their primary care provider and health care team to determine how healthy eating, physical activities, or weigh loss treatment can help.
Additional information on these and other tips, as well as the November commemoration, are available from: the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) webpage on National Diabetes Month 2023 and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage covering Diabetes and Vision Loss. To learn more about eye diseases and to explore other educational materials, visit the National Eye Institute (NEI) of NIH webpage on Diabetic Eye Disease Resources.
National Diabetes Month 2023 Toolkit
NIDDK provides a toolkit with resources to share this year’s Diabetes Month theme, “Take Charge of Tomorrow: Preventing Diabetes Health Problems.” The kit includes a downloadable flyer with tips to prevent health problems as well as sample social media posts and graphics with prevention messages that can be communicated via such channels as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Check out the NIDDK webpage featuring the National Diabetes Month 2023 Toolkit.