Eye test for diabetic retinopathy

The Agency on Aging is providing $10,126 to Floyd Diabetes Education for a device that is to screen eyes for signs of diabetic retinopathy. / Floyd Medical Center

A partnership between Floyd Medical Center and the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission’s Area Agency on Aging will result in an effort to prevent blindness in senior citizens.

The Agency on Aging is providing $10,126 to Floyd Diabetes Education for a device that is to screen eyes for signs of diabetic retinopathy.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, impairing vision. The National Institute of Healthcare reported that diabetic retinopathy is the number one cause of blindness in working age individuals across the U.S.

“We focus on helping seniors stay healthy so they can stay in their homes as long as possible,” said Lynne Reeves, director of the Area Agency on Aging. “Partnering with Floyd on this makes sense.”

“There is a real need here,” Traci Tillery, FMC’s director of specialty services said. “When you look at our older population, so many of them have diabetes. This testing will provide a real tool to determine if their vision is OK and we can refer them to an ophthalmologist to come up with a treatment plan.”

More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and the rate of diabetes increases with age. More than one-fourth of Americans age 65 and over have diabetes, the CDC has reported. The American Foundation for the Blind reported in 2009 that 3.8 million diabetic adults reported some type of visual impairment.