Eating for Your Eyes II: Diabetic Retinopathy, a project developed by NDSU in collaboration with the North Dakota Optometric Association, has been awarded $10,000 by Healthy Vision Community Awards. Project directors are Nancy Kopp, executive director of the North Dakota Optometric Association, and Sherri Stastny, assistant professor of health, nutrition and exercise science at NDSU, in collaboration with Julie Garden-Robinson, associate professor and food and nutrition specialist with NDSU Extension Service. Healthy Vision Community Awards are sponsored by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, to make a difference in communities across the nation by supporting grassroots eye health education. The seed money supplies the spark to get projects started, which are then sustained through community partnerships.
Healthy Vision Community Awards, established in 2003, is a federal program that provides funding directly to communities to improve eye health awareness. Seed money goes to nonprofit and community-based organizations to implement innovative programs or expand existing services to new groups.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetic retinopathy, a diabetic eye disease, accounts for 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness every year and is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults. Prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes is estimated at 23.6 million people (7.8 percent of the population). A disproportionate number of people ages 60 and older, 12.2 million people (23.1 percent of the population), have diabetes. Of the various ethnic groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest rates of diabetes at 16.5 percent. Prevalence of diabetes has increased by more than 3 million from 2005 to 2007. In North Dakota, 6.1 percent of adults were diagnosed with diabetes in 2007. Direct and indirect medical costs of diabetes in the United States are estimated at $174 billion.
Eating for your Eyes II: Diabetic Retinopathy project directors aim to increase awareness and knowledge of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, and associated risk and prevention factors, including eye examinations and diet. Stastny, a registered dietitian, will lead workshops throughout North Dakota during 2011-12.