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Eye Health Is Extra Important To Those With Diabetes

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MORGANTOWN -

Statistics show that about 12 percent of West Virginians have diabetes. That is among the highest rates in the country. That makes November, National Diabetes Awareness Month, that much more important in the Mountain State, and an important month to not forget about eye health.

At 6 years old, Alissa Moore received a birthday gift she wanted to return.

"I had my birthday party in kindergarten and everything and mom baked a cake. I had been sick that whole week," said Moore.

So Alissa went to the doctor where she was diagnosed with Type-I Diabetes, a disease she watched he mother struggle with all of her life.

"At that time I didn't know what all was going on and what all could happen," she said. "As I got older mom started having problems with her eyes and she developed Diabetic Retinopathy. Before she died in 2004 she was legally blind."

Diabetic Retinopathy, or Diabetes of the eye as described by Dr. Ghassan Ghorayeb of the West Virginia University Eye Institute, is the leading cause of blindness among working adults.

"By the time you have the disease it's a bit late in the game," said Dr. Ghorayeb. "And that's the principle reason why we like people with diabetes to have early and regular checkups."

Ghorayeb said the condition impacts nearly 100-percent of people with Type-I Diabetes.

Moore faced that reality last August when her doctor found excess blood vessel growth on the back of her eyes.

"Knowing everything that mom went through with, I immediately started crying," she said. "Inside I thought the worst."

She's has two surgeries since, and said the scare taught her to take better care of her health, and monitor her Diabetes more closely.

"I still deep inside fear something could happen, but I know I'm in good hands here," she said.

Ghorayeb said early treatment is successful in 95-percent of Diabetic Retinopathy patients, and adds that everyone with Diabetes should see their eye doctor at least once a year.