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The National Eye Health Education Program is coordinated by the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This administrative document may be reprinted without permission.
In This Issue:
As health professionals, we know that thorough eye exams require attention to the overall health profile of our patients. An essential piece of information that affects treatment is whether a patient has diabetes. Comprehensive dilated eye exams play a critical role in detecting diabetic eye disease in its early, treatable stages, before vision loss has occurred.
Currently, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in individuals between the ages 20 and 741 and it affects certain populations—African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives—disproportionately. However, we know that 95% of severe vision loss from diabetic retinopathy can be prevented through early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up. Health education plays an important role in reducing the disease burden of diabetes. It is essential we talk to patients about having annual dilated exams and not waiting until they notice vision problems to seek eye care. It is also essential that we work with health educators and community organizations to spread this important message.
National Diabetes Month is observed each November and provides a great opportunity to expand our year-round educational efforts for people with diabetes. NEHEP has a wide variety of resources available, in both English and Spanish, to help you raise awareness and tailor your educational efforts to the needs of your community. I encourage you to visit the NEHEP Diabetic Eye Disease Program page to order or download resources. This issue of Outlook also includes an article describing some of these resources and how they can be used. Resources include a new online training for the Diabetes and Healthy Eyes Toolkit for community health workers; new public service announcements that can be downloaded, printed in a variety of sizes, and run in local newspapers or on websites; drop-in articles; social media tools; and an infographic for your social media outlets.
Also featured in this issue of Outlook are articles from NEHEP Partnership organizations about resources they have available on diabetes and for people living with low vision. I also want to extend my congratulations to NEHEP for winning two prestigious awards that recognize excellence in marketing and communication for its Living with Low Vision video.
Please contact us to let us know about your work in raising awareness about diabetic eye disease. We would especially appreciate comments on how you have used NEHEP materials and how we can better support your eye health education efforts. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.
Anne Louise Coleman, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair, National Eye Health Education Program Planning Committee
The Fran and Ray Stark Professor of Ophthalmology
Jules Stein Eye Institute
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
and Professor of Epidemiology
UCLA School of Public Health
November is National Diabetes Month, a perfect opportunity to raise awareness about the need for people with diabetes to have annual dilated eye exams to protect their sight. Diabetic eye disease is a complication of diabetes that includes cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, all of which can lead to vision loss or blindness when left untreated. There are often no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic eye disease, but it can be detected before noticeable vision loss occurs. Ninety-five percent of severe vision loss from diabetes can be prevented through early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) has a variety of materials in English and Spanish to help you share information with people in your community as well as with family, friends, and colleagues. The following are examples of resources with ideas about how to use them. You can find these, as well as additional ideas, on the NEHEP Diabetic Eye Disease Program page.
Diabetic Eye Disease Infographic
What You Can Do: Share at-a-glance information about diabetic eye disease, prevalence rates, risk factors, and how to protect vision if you have diabetes.
How You Can Do It: Share it on your social media outlets or add it to an article, story, newsletter, or website.
Diabetes & Healthy Eyes Toolkit and Online Training Course
What You Can Do: Health educators and community health workers can use this toolkit to address diabetic eye disease in diabetes self-management classes or community workshops. The new online tutorial will guide you step-by-step on how to use the toolkit and all of its components.
Diabetic Eye Disease: An Educator’s Guide
What You Can Do: Have a one-on-one educational session or conduct a small group session to talk with patients about diabetic eye disease.
How You Can Do It: The Educator’s Guide is formatted as a desktop flipchart with text to guide discussions and illustrations to show patients. It includes a CD that features modules patients can use on their own, a PowerPoint slide presentation, and English and Spanish presentations that can be printed in PDF format.
Diabetic Eye Disease Education Website
What You Can Do: Link others to this consumer-friendly site where they can learn about early detection, timely treatment, and follow-up care for diabetic eye disease. They'll also find information on organizations that provide financial assistance for eye care and sample questions to ask an eye care professional.
How You Can Do It: Post the link on your intranet or website. Include information about the website in e-mails and newsletters to your constituents.
Diabetic Eye Disease Vodcast
What You Can Do: Help others understand how diabetes affects vision. In this video, Dr. Rachel Bishop from the National Eye Institute discusses diabetic eye disease and what treatments are available.
How You Can Do It: Link to this vodcast from your website, embed it on your website, or share it through your social media outlets.
What You Can Do: Use this ready-to-be-published article to raise awareness about the increase in prevalence of diabetic eye disease over the next 40 years and steps people can take to reduce vision loss.
How You Can Do It: Add it to your website, newsletter, or blog. You can also send it to the local media to print it.
¡Ojo con su visión! (Watch Out for Your Vision!)—Photonovella
What You Can Do: Help Hispanics/Latinos better understand diabetes and the importance of having a dilated eye exam at least once a year.
How You Can Do It: Distribute this booklet at locations that provide programs and services to the Hispanic/Latino community, such as community clinics and centers, libraries, and houses of worship.
Don’t Lose Sight of Diabetic Eye Disease Brochure
What You Can Do: Inform people with diabetes about how to minimize their risk of vision loss from diabetes. Encourage eye care professionals in your community to share the brochure with patients.
How You Can Do It: Stop in at local eye care professionals’ offices and ask to make it available to their patients. Leave a copy and be sure to provide information about how they can order it. If you work with diabetes self-management programs, give this brochure to patients. Distribute it at local clinics and other community-based settings.
Print and Radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
What You Can Do: Enlist the mass media. A variety of downloadable print and radio PSA scripts about diabetic eye disease are available.
How You Can Do It: Provide editors of your local newspaper with links to print PSAs and ask them to run the PSAs or use them in your own publications or social media outlets. Use ready-made scripts to record PSAs that your organization can play on your hold line or to distribute to local radio stations.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) is pleased to announce that its Living with Low Vision video has won a 2013 Communicator Award of Distinction and a Hermes Creative Award Honorable Mention, two international awards that recognize excellence in marketing and communications.
The Living with Low Vision: Stories of Hope and Independence DVD showcases people living with low vision and how they use assistive devices and rehabilitation services to maintain their quality of life. It describes where to find help and how to live safely and independently. The DVD is a companion piece to the NEHEP booklet, Living with Low Vision: What You Should Know, which is designed to help people with vision loss and their families and friends to better understand low vision and what types of services are available to them. You can watch the DVD and order or download the booklet at http://www.nei.nih.gov/lowvision/content/living.asp.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) is the federal government’s lead agency that conducts and supports vision research, trains the next generation of vision scientists, and disseminates eye health information.
NEI programs focus on finding treatments for blinding eye diseases and disorders, understanding how a healthy visual system functions, preventing vision loss, and recognizing the special needs of people who are blind. If you or your constituents have questions about eye health, eye diseases and conditions, or vision research, you can call the NEI Office of Science Communications, Public Liaison, and Education to speak with an information specialist. Spanish-speaking specialists are also available. While NEI cannot provide personalized medical advice to individuals about their condition or treatment, information specialists can help direct callers to other sources of information and encourage them to seek help from an eye care professional. To talk with someone about your eye health questions, call 301–496–5248 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In observance of National Diabetes Month 2013, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) wants people to know that diabetes is a family affair. Diabetes is a challenging disease that affects the entire family in many ways. For people living with diabetes and their loved ones, family support is very important when it comes to managing diabetes and preventing serious health complications associated with this disease, including eye problems and even vision loss. It is also important to know that having a family history of diabetes—such as a mother, father, brother, or sister with diabetes—increases a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
This November, NDEP and its partners are working with individuals, families, and communities to take action and encourage simple but important lifestyle changes to improve the health of people with diabetes. Visit www.YourDiabetesInfo.org/DiabetesMonth2013 to find resources on how to make healthy changes as a family, as well as promotional tools you can use to promote National Diabetes Month in your community.
Earlier this year, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) launched a new resource and program to provide support to the newly diagnosed adult type 1 diabetes (T1D) community. Part of this effort is the T1D Care Kit, which is a slingpak full of valuable resources for newly diagnosed adults. Many adults with recent onset T1D are unaware of the long-term complications T1D can have on their eyes.
In collaboration with Genentech, which helped support this effort, JDRF distributed diabetic eye disease resources from the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) to chapter locations throughout the country. In addition, JDRF created a postcard to include in the T1D Care Kit, which contains all of the eye health resources offered on the NEHEP diabetic eye disease website. JDRF recognizes the importance of promoting eye health and works to ensure that people with T1D learn about the importance of having eye exams at least once a year as early as possible.
Driven by passionate, grassroots volunteers who are connected to children, adolescents, and adults with this disease, JDRF is now the largest charitable supporter of T1D research. The goal of JDRF research is to improve the lives of all people affected by T1D by accelerating progress on the most promising opportunities for curing, better treating, and preventing T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners who share this goal.
Since its founding in 1970, JDRF has awarded more than $1.7 billion to diabetes research. Past JDRF efforts have helped to significantly advance the care of people with this disease and have expanded the critical scientific understanding of T1D. JDRF will not rest until T1D is fully conquered. More than 80 percent of JDRF's expenditures directly support research and research-related education.
For more information, please visit http://www.jdrf.org.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) worked closely with the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) and AFB VisionAware™ to develop the newest Go4Life tip sheet, Exercise for People With Low Vision, which highlights the many ways that people with low vision can be physically active. This joins another NIA/NEHEP tip sheet, Protect Your Eyes When You Exercise, which includes information on how to prevent sports-related eye injuries.
For more information and free resources related to exercise and physical activity for older adults, visit the Go4Life website at http://www.nia.nih.gov/Go4Life.
More than 21.2 million Americans report having trouble seeing, and that number is on the rise. For adults experiencing vision loss for the first time, the diagnosis can feel overwhelming and stressful. With this in mind, VisionAware created its new Getting Started kit.
VisionAware.org is a free online resource for the millions of people who have difficulty seeing. The Getting Started kit provides hope to people with vision loss and connects them with the resources they need. It is available in HTML, as a PDF, and in print. The kit includes tip sheets that address practical approaches to everyday tasks, such as reading, cooking, using computers and other technology, helping friends and family understand how they can help, and more. Additional tip sheets will be added to the Getting Started kit as they become available.
The tip sheets represent just a small sample of the many resources available on VisionAware.org. Visitors can also find the latest news on vision loss and specific eye conditions, a community of peers and professionals, in-depth articles, and coping tips.
For those interested in receiving the printed Getting Started kit, please visit http://www.visionaware.org/myvaregistration.aspx.
The prospect of vision loss is frightening to older adults diagnosed with age-related eye disease. To help alleviate some of the uncertainty and fear, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) recently launched a new online resource for those with low vision and their caretakers. The mission of Living Well with Low Vision is to make it as easy as possible for people to educate themselves about loss of vision and to meet the daily challenges resulting from it. Patient advocate and low vision educator Dan Roberts, M.M.E., serves as editor-in-chief.
Site resources include a self-help guide to nonvisual skills; a visual skills workbook for people with age-related macular degeneration; a guide to caring for people with visual impairments; a range of resource directories, including a searchable database of more than 1,500 paratransit services around the country; and a blog with news and features of interest to people living with low vision. For more information, please call 1–800–331–2020 or visit http://lowvision.preventblindness.org.
Dr. Wadih Zein, staff clinician at the National Eye Institute (NEI), has co-authored an article with staff of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and Lions Clubs International on protecting vision in school-aged children. The article appears in the September 2013 issue of NASN School Nurse, a journal focusing on enhancing the school nursing practice.
The article emphasize the critical role school nurses play in improving student performance by bringing vision screenings and eye health education to their schools. It also discusses how nurses can engage the entire school community—teachers, coaches, and others—to magnify their impact.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the Nation’s leading voluntary health organization providing diabetes research, information, and advocacy. It works to prevent and cure diabetes; provides information and other services to people with diabetes, health professionals, and the general public; and leads advocacy efforts on behalf of people with diabetes.
Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years. In 2005–2008, 4.2 million (28.5%) people with diabetes aged 40 years or older had diabetic retinopathy, and of these, almost 0.7 million (4.4% of those with diabetes) had advanced diabetic retinopathy that could lead to severe vision loss.
As a Partnership organization of the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP), the ADA recognizes the importance of educating people with diabetes about its eye complications, including cataract, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Its website includes information on diabetic eye disease and ways to care for your eyes.
Many of the organization’s materials also touch on eye complications stemming from diabetes. In addition, the ADA’s Center for Information and Community Support distributes NEHEP’s Medicare Benefit Card, a promotional card developed by NEHEP and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to promote the glaucoma and diabetic eye disease benefit under Medicare. ADA distributes these cards to people when they call to ask questions about vision and diabetes. This past year, more than 300,000 people contacted the Center with questions and concerns about diabetes and potential complications.
ADA works with NEHEP throughout the year to promote eye health and took to social media during Glaucoma Awareness Month this past January and used Twitter, Facebook, and its blog to link people to NEHEP resources.
For more information on the ADA, visit http://www.diabetes.org.
The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) wants to know what you think about Outlook. Let us know what you find beneficial, ideas for content you would like to see in upcoming issues, or suggestions for improvement. We’re always interested in hearing about your eye health education efforts and especially how you have used NEHEP resources and materials.
Please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!