The National Federation of the Blind, along with several other groups that
advocate on behalf of diabetics and their health care providers, launched
a nationwide informational campaign designed to raise awareness of complications
of diabetes, including vision loss. Unveiled in April, the campaign aims to
help diabetics manage their diabetes effectively despite their complications,
and to help delay or prevent the onset of further complications.
The campaign focused on “The State of Diabetes Complications in America,” a newly released report that analyzed national health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report finds that three out of five diabetics in America suffer from at least one serious complication of the disease, such as vision loss, amputation, kidney failure, or heart disease. Moreover, one in ten diabetics experiences two or more complications.
The findings constitute a “significant wake-up call,” said Willard Manning, a University of Chicago health economist who worked on the report. Many diabetics are not aware that they are at increased risk of kidney failure, blindness, amputation, and heart attack because of their disease. Many also do not know that once they experience a single complication, they are at even greater risk for developing a second, third or fourth. Good diabetes management, however, can often delay or even prevent the onset of further complications.
“The report should also serve as a wake-up call to the diabetes industry,” said Eileen Rivera Ley, Director of Diabetes Initiatives for the National Federation of the Blind. “It shows that most diabetics are experiencing complications, so the industry needs to develop products and technologies that are accessible to people with complications, such as vision loss or amputation.” Ley pointed out that many diabetes technologies, such as insulin pumps, cannot be fully used by the visually impaired.
Annette Gordon wants to be a part of the wake-up call (see related story on pages 2-3). Gordon, 61, and a member of the National Federation of the Blind in Maryland, ignored her diabetes for nearly 20 years, until it cost her both her vision and her teeth (see related story on page 17). She wants to make sure other diabetics don’t make her mistake. “I’m going to shout it from the housetop!” she says with a smile. Gordon also wants to make sure diabetics know that life isn’t over when you lose your vision. Since she took a life-skills course for visually impaired people, Gordon says she has newfound confidence, and can do more now than before she lost her vision. “Blindness opened up a bigger world for me,” she notes.
“The State of Diabetes Complications in America” report was sponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), along with the NFB, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) and Mended Hearts.
For more information, check out: www.stateofdiabetes.com