Since people with diabetes are 25 times more likely to become blind than the non-diabetic population, an annual dilated eye exam is highly recommended. African-Americans with diabetes are twice as likely to become blind as their Caucasian counterparts.
In a study of 280 African-Americans with diabetes, those who took part in a health education program were twice as likely to get an annual dilated eye exam than those who were not given the same information. Participants in the program were mailed a booklet and videotape which explained the importance of getting the eye exam. The mailings were followed one week later by one-on-one counseling over the telephone regarding each participant’s reasons for getting or objecting to the exam.
“The early detection of diabetic eye disease, as well as laser surgery when needed, has helped preserve vision in about 90 percent of those who might otherwise lose their vision,” says Carl Kupfer, MD, director of the National Eye Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health) and the sponsor of the study.