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Health Department focusing on diabetic eye health

ALBANY -- Vision health is a vital issue to the general population, especially to those living with diabetes. In light of that, the Dougherty County Health Department has chosen that as its focus this month.

As part of its lecture and luncheon series, the health department is hosting an educational session on eye care for diabetics Friday.

"We thought we would focus on eye care for the diabetic," said Adult Health Director Vamella Lovett. "We just wanted to present something to the public (on the topic).

"It is a big issue. We have a lot of diabetics in Dougherty County."

Part of the inspiration for the subject also came from January being known to the health care community as Glaucoma Awareness Month.

The health department's diabetic program, which has 200 people currently enrolled in it, as a number of goals including encouragement of vision checks. Experts say many diabetics do not realize the danger the condition poses on their eyesight.

"Blindness is one of the things that affects diabetics," Lovett said. "Some patients will wait and not realize how their eyes are being affected. Every year, there are a large number of people that go blind due to diabetes."

High blood sugar levels can cause various complications. Since the eyes are vulnerable to becoming a causality, blindness is a common problem with those living with diabetes.

"There can be damage done to the eyes and the kidneys," Lovett explained. "It is possible for a diabetic's vision to be damaged."

While the focus is on diabetic eye health, those who do not have the condition are also welcome to attend.

"People that are not diabetic can come and get something out of it," Lovett said.

The session, scheduled to run from noon to 1 p.m., will consist of a lecture followed by a question and answer session. Educational literature on eye care will be available to participants.

The speaker at the session will be Dr. Paul Malsky, a retinal opthamologist who practices in Albany. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required for the event to ensure sufficient seating is available. Those wishing to reserve a space are encouraged to call (229) 430-6230.

The Dougherty County Health Department is located at 1710 S. Slappey

Blvd.