Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month and How to Use your Flex Spending Account
As the year comes to an end, do your eyes a favor. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month where we raise awareness about an often-unrecognized health issue that steals people’s vision. As the year comes to an end, we approach the deadline to use health flexible spending accounts.
The two subjects are not unrelated. During Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, we urge everyone to get up to date with any preventative health screenings and eye exams before the year ends. These exams dovetail nicely with annual vision exams and make the best use of your flexible health spending accounts.
November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month
In the early stages, diabetes is often silent which is why annual screenings are so important. People often notice no painful symptoms or warning signs early on. This is why diabetes is sometimes referred to as a silent killer to both the body and vision.
Facts About Diabetes and Eye Health:
- The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that around 29 million Americans adults over the age of 20 have diabetes.
- According to the CDC, 27.8% of people with diabetes have not been diagnosed. Diabetes may lead to numerous complications including vision loss.
- An additional 84.1 have prediabetes which often leads to Type II diabetes, according to the CDC. Less than 12% of those with prediabetes know they have it.
- Controlling diabetes through lifestyle changes or prescribed medication can prevent or slow diabetes-related vision loss. Maintain a healthy diet and stay physically active to help prevent this and other diabetes-related health problems.
Some Eye Problems Caused by Diabetes Include:
- Diabetic retinopathy – refers to the breakdown of the walls of blood vessels within the retina. It leads to bleeding or accumulation of fluid.
- Early onset cataracts – a clouding of the lens.
- Shifts in refractive error.
- Glaucoma – where excess fluid builds up and causes damage to your optic nerve.
- Or in some cases even blindness.
The best way to combat these diabetes-related vision issues is to have an annual, comprehensive eye exam. For more information about Diabetic Retinal Screenings, visit our page on this vital topic.
Other Ways to Prevent Diabetes-Related Vision Loss Include:
- If you happen to be diagnosed with diabetes, carefully follow your physician’s advice to prevent unnecessary risks to your health and quality of life.
- Control your blood sugar levels, American Diabetes Association (ADA) elevated blood sugar levels are associated with the development of retinopathy.
- Track your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Maintain healthy levels.
- Lead an active lifestyle and exercise daily as moderate exercise helps control blood sugar levels.
- If you smoke, quit smoking. Talk with your physician about available programs or resources.
All these positive choices benefit your overall health and your vision. Even if you don’t have diabetes, these are healthy choices that can help you live your healthiest life.
Diabetes-related vision loss is preventable! Piedmont Eye Care (PEC) is one of the few practices in the Southeast that uses CLEARPATH technology to detect and monitor Retinopathy. Annual screenings exams lead to early diagnosis. An early diagnosis empowers you to seek preventative care and early treatment to maintain a lifetime of healthy vision.
Don’t Miss Your Chance to Benefit From Your Year-End Flex Spending Accounts Before December 31
If you have a flexible spending account, remember you may use the benefits before the end of the year to avoid losing the money you contributed. During 2017, individuals contribute up to $2,600 pre-tax annually to cover insurance deductibles, copays, and other approved health and medical expenses.
November and December are the perfect time to claim any unused benefit by scheduling your eye exam or buying new contact lenses or glasses. You invest in your flexible spending account to receive a tax deduction and to cover deductibles and non-covered health and medical expenses.
The challenge is that health expenses are hard to plan for as you don’t know what will happen each year. Once you have all your annual preventative health exams, you may have funds remaining. Many people find that is a great time to stock up on all their eye care needs for the year.
Here are a few ideas if you haven’t used all your flex spending account for the year:
- If you haven’t done so already, get any relevant health screenings and preventative health appointments.
- Look ahead to summer and choose a pair of prescription or nonprescription sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays. Look forward to a summer of style and eye protection with your new sunglasses.
- Add new lenses in your current prescription to your favorite pair of older frames.
- Stock up on contact lenses and contact lens cleaning solutions, eye drops, and other supplies.
- Get a pair of computer glasses, blue light blocking glasses, or reading glasses depending on your needs and lifestyle.
- Consider a pair of colored contacts if you fancy a change.
- Glasses can be a fashion accessory as well as a vision saver. Many people like to use their remaining funds to purchase a new pair of glasses as it never hurts to have an extra pair!
- If you have diabetes, stock up on any supplies you need including blood sugar monitoring test strips. As mentioned, monitoring and controlling blood sugar levels helps protect your vision.
- Sports goggles or prescription safety glasses depending on your occupation or hobbies.
Call Piedmont Eye Care Associates today to schedule your annual eye health exam or an appointment with our optometrist. You contribute to your flexible spending account throughout the year, it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Your eyes will thank you!