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Congressional Leader Urges African Americans with Diabetes to Get Annual Diabetic Eye Exam

02/01/2010   08:30:00 AM

New PSA released featuring Congressman James E. Clyburn, asks those living with diabetes to pledge to get eye exam in February.

SAN FRANCISCO – In recognition of Black History Month, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn is urging African Americans with diabetes to get an annual diabetic eye exam during February. The message, released in a new public service announcement produced in conjunction with the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s (AAO) EyeSmart campaign and the Stop Diabetessm movement of the American Diabetes Association reminds the African American population of the dangers of diabetes and the importance of protecting your vision through regular dilated eye exams.

The incidence of diabetes continues to increase, particularly among African Americans. 3.7 million African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes. Studies show that African Americans with diabetes are more likely to develop diabetic complications and experience greater disability from the complications than white Americans with diabetes. The only way to prevent this is through strict glucose control and by having an annual dilated eye exam.

“Diabetes is an epidemic in the African American community,” said Congressman and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (SC-6).  “People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to go blind and African Americans with diabetes are at an even higher riskalmost 50 percent more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.  If you have diabetes, it’s critically important for you to receive an annual diabetic eye exam, because it will help detect and prevent eye disease.”

For every white American who gets diabetes, 1.6 African Americans get diabetes and one in four black women, 55 years of age or older, has diabetes. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious and sometimes life-threatening complications, including blindness, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. Managing your diabetes can help reduce your risk.

Watch the PSA with Congressman and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn stressing the importance for African Americans with diabetes to get an annual diabetic eye exam.

Take the pledge to get an annual diabetic eye exam to protect your vision, or share this important information with friends and family. Get Eyesmart, Eyecommitted today.

To find an Eye M.D. in your area, please visit www.GetEyeSmart.org. Consumers can submit questions about eye health to an ophthalmologist at http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/ask/

NOTE TO EDITORS AND PRODUCERS:  30 second PSA and interviews with clinical correspondents available upon request.

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About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
AAO is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 27,000 members worldwide.  Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit the Academy's Web site at www.aao.org.

About the American Diabetes Association
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to stop diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.

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