New Study on Professional Truck Drivers and Diabetic Macular Edema Shows Loss of Vision as Well as Impact on Income

HOUSTON (May 14, 2013) – Diabetes continues to impact the health and lifestyle of millions of Americans. According to the 2012 Vision Problems in the U.S. report from Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute, there are close to 2 million adults in the state of Texas with diabetes. And more than 600,000 have diabetic eye disease, with many more at risk. 

For those who depend on their vision for their livelihood, diabetes can have a devastating effect. A new study entitled “Truck Drivers Suffer Significant Economic Burden Due to Diabetic Macular Edema,” by Sunir S. Patel, MD, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor at Texas Tech University of Medicine, et al, found that those in the commercial truck driving industry were at heightened risk for developing diabetes and diabetic macular edema (DME) due to:

  • Limited healthy food choices on the road.
  • Limited opportunities to exercise.
  • Unwillingness to start insulin therapy due to perceptions surrounding regulations on commercial vehicle operation and insulin use.

The study also found that the mean total annualized out-of-pocket costs for diabetes-and DME-related care was $4,743.

In an effort to educate lawmakers and the public on this serious issue, Prevent Blindness Texas and Prevent Blindness America will be hosting an educational briefing, “Eyes on the Road: Diabetes’ Impact on Vision and Work.” Held today at the Legislative Conference Center in Austin, Texas, the free presentation will feature comments by Dr. Patel and David M. Brown, MD, Retina Consultants of Houston.

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that weakens the small blood vessels in the retina. Diabetic macular edema is a result of diabetic retinopathy and can lead to loss of central vision. Some symptoms may include blurry or clouded vision, floaters or dark spots in vision, straight lines that do not appear straight (such as flag poles, street lights, etc.) and difficulty seeing in dim lightor tunnel vision.

“Diabetes affects more than just our bodies. It can impact our ability to maintain a career or even earn a living," said Debbie Goss, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness Texas. "The economic impact from this study alone should serve as a wake-up call to the public and our public servants that this issue must be addressed today in order to protect our future. We look forward to expanding on this study to demonstrate how imperative it is to continue to fund research and expand programs related to this epidemic disease.”

Prevent Blindness Texas recommends that persons with diabetes:

  • Get a dilated eye exam every year. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Increase your physical activity.
  • Watch and control your blood sugar levels.
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure.
  • Quit smoking.

For more information on diabetic eye disease or the “Eyes on the Road: Diabetes’ Impact on Vision and Work” educational briefing, please visit www.preventblindnesstexas.org or call (888) 98-SIGHT. 

About Prevent Blindness Texas

Founded in 1956, Prevent Blindness is the state’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness Texas touches the lives of thousands of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, community and patient service programs and research. These services are made possible through the generous support of the Texas public. Through a network of regional offices and volunteers, we are committed to eliminating preventable blindness in Texas. For more information, or to make a contribution to the sight-saving fund, call 1-888-98-SIGHT or visit us on our website, Facebook, Twitter, or blog.

Read the Eyes on the Road: Diabetes Impact on Vision and Work Press Release.