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Eye exams crucial for diabetics

That discovery of diabetes 30 years ago has left 67-year-old Lourene Hicks keeping a close eye on her eyes at Carolina Ophthalmology in Hendersonville. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

"I was diagnosed in 1987."

That discovery of diabetes 30 years ago has left 67-year-old Lourene Hicks keeping a close eye on her eyes at Carolina Ophthalmology in Hendersonville.

"I try to come to my doctor regular and have a checkup and my eyes and everything," said Hicks.

Dr. Raj Patel, a retina specialist with the practice, added, "People tend to forget about the effects diabetes can have on the eye: worsening cataracts, glaucoma. It can cause disease of the retina."

Diabetics are especially prone to leaking blood vessels.

Doctors recommend those with diabetes get an annual dilated exam to detect problems and initiate treatment -- if needed -- to prevent further vision loss.

"I love to read," said Hicks. "I couldn't stand it if I couldn't read."

Patel explained, "With each passing year that you've carried that diagnosis, the odds of developing diabetic eye disease increases."

But the odds of catching the problem and potentially reversing it increase, too, with a simple visit to an eye professional every 12 months.

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