This Diabetes Alert Day, valuable resources to help care for patients

March 23, 2021
Research has shown that co-morbidities matter when it comes to patients surviving COVID-19. One of those co-morbidities of concern is diabetes, and doctors of optometry annually detect thousands of diabetes-related manifestations in the eyes.
Diabetes Alert Day

In 2019, doctors of optometry identified signs of diabetic retinopathy in 359,027 individuals who did not know they had diabetes. Those finds, which can lead to early diagnoses and interventions, are even more consequential given that studies have linked diabetes to hospitalizations for COVID-19.

According to estimates in the National Diabetes Statistic Report 2020, diabetes is prevalent:

  • 2 million people (10.5% of the U.S. population) had diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes in 2018.
  • 3 million adults (18 years and older) were unaware they had diabetes.
  • 88 million adults over age 18 had prediabetes.
  • The percentage of adults with the disease increases with age, rising to 26.8% among those 65 years and older.

The report also noted risk factors for diabetes-related complications. Among those factors were being overweight/obese (89%), high blood pressure (68.4%), an A1C value of 7% or higher (50%), having high cholesterol (43.5%), being physical inactivity (38%) and smoking (21.6%).

In a recent update of the nationwide French CORONADO study, researchers looked at the link between diabetes and COVID-19 and hospitalized patients. Among its findings was that microvascular and macrovascular diabetic complications were found in 44.2% and 38.6% respectively of the nearly 2,800 study participants, its researchers reported in a February 2021 update. Among microvascular complications are histories of diabetic kidney disease, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic foot ulcers.

“To summarise, younger age, routine metformin (blood glucose-lowering drug) therapy and longer symptom duration on admission were positively associated with discharge,” the researchers say. “History of microvascular complications, anticoagulant routine therapy, dyspnoea on admission, and higher AST (aspartate aminotransferase), white cell count and CRP (C-reactive protein) levels were associated with a reduced chance of discharge.”

Access AOA’s diabetes resources

The AOA has recognized diabetes as a serious and growing public health issue for the nation. To support doctors of optometry and raise public awareness, the AOA provides numerous resources including:

The AOA evidence-based clinical practice guideline Eye Care of the Patient with Diabetes Mellitus, Second Edition, which contains 31 recommended actions to enhance care of patients with diabetes.

EyeLearn Professional Development Hub resourcesincluding some members-only tools. EyeLearn will offer diabetes education on topics including point of care testing, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification and optometry's role in therapeutic inertia. These webinars will be live and recorded for AOA credit. Stay tuned to aoa.org/news for dates and registration information.

Resources at AOA Marketplace, including the updated Diabetic Retinopathy Fact Sheet and patient education materials.

PowerPoint: Diabetes
Infographic: Diabetes & Your Eyes

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