Diabetes Awareness Month

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. This is a disease that affects nearly 26-million people in the United States including hundreds of thousands in Mississippi. When it comes to diabetic eye disease, there are many facts to share.

“Diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness in middle-aged adults in the United States,” Jaime Jiménez, M.D., said. Dr. Jiménez specializes in Vitreoretinal and Diabetes at Southern Eye Center, and he serves as a board member for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. “See your eye care professional at least once a year for a dilated eye exam.”

According to the National Eye Institute, diabetic retinopathy is today’s leading cause of blindness for 7.7-million people. That number is projected to jump to 11-million in 2030 and 14.5-million in 2050. In 95% of the diabetic retinopathy cases, blindness related to diabetes can be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment.

diabetic ret 2

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy consists of small hemorrhages (or broken blood vessels) that occur in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. They may require immediate treatment and should be closely monitored for changes. Those who are at risk have Type-1 or Type-2 diabetes.

“It is very important to control your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol to prevent complications,” Abumere Akinwale, M.D. said. She specializes in Retina, Vitreous and Diabetes. “The physicians at the Southern Eye Center have the expertise and the experience to provide world class care.”


Abumere Akinwale, M.D.

Following medical school at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Akinwale completed a Vitreo-Retinal Fellowship at Harvard Medical School with an emphasis on diabetic eye disease. When Dr. Akinale returned to Mississippi, she completed her Surgical Retina fellowship at the Southern Eye Center under Dr. Jiménez. Currently, Dr. Akinwale is an active member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Retina Specialists.

“I always wanted to return home to Mississippi. As many know, Mississippi has the highest rate of patients with diabetes in the Continental U.S.,” Dr. Akinwale said. “At Harvard, I trained at the Joslin Diabetes Center, a premier institution, which provided me with the tools to help my fellow Mississippians.”

According to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi in a 2010 study, 12.4% of the adult population reported having diabetes. Furthermore, estimates indicate that 373,000 adults in Mississippi have diabetes and only 274,000 are aware of their condition! Mississippi has the undesirable distinction of being the “heaviest State in the Union” with 70% of the population being overweight with a body mass index of 25-plus. Overweight individuals have an increased risk of developing Type-2 diabetes, which can lead to blindness.

The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi also indicates that diabetes does not discriminate. Among the self-reported diabetes cases, 9.9% are white females, 11.9% are black males, 12.4% are white males, and 17.5% are black females.

What’s next?

Learn more about the facts of diabetic eye disease on our website.

Read more about our Board Certified and fellowship-trained physicians, Dr. Abumere Akinwale and Dr. Jaime Jiménez.

Schedule an appointment.