Release Date: 
Friday, June 1, 2007
John G. Paré Jr.
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2371
(410) 913-3912 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Participates in Campaign to Raise Awareness of Type 2 Diabetes Complications

Baltimore, Maryland (June 1, 2007): The National Federation of the Blind, along with several other groups that advocate on behalf of diabetics, launched a nationwide informational campaign designed to raise awareness of the complications of diabetes, including vision loss.  Unveiled in April, the campaign aims to help diabetics manage their diabetes effectively even while experiencing complications like blindness, and to help delay or prevent the onset of further complications.

The campaign focused on “The State of Diabetes Complications in America,” a newly released report that analyzed national health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   The report found that three out of five diabetics in America suffer from at least one serious complication of the disease, such as vision loss, amputation, kidney failure, or heart disease.  Moreover, one in ten diabetics experiences two or more complications.

“The findings constitute a significant wake-up call,” said Willard Manning, a University of Chicago health economist who worked on the report.  Many diabetics are not aware that they have increased risk of kidney failure, blindness, amputation, and heart attack because of their disease.  Many also do not know that once they experience a single complication, they are at even greater risk for developing a second, third, or fourth complication.  Good diabetes management, however, can often delay or even prevent the onset of further complications.

 “The report should also serve as a wake-up call to the diabetes industry,” said Eileen Rivera Ley, director of diabetes initiatives for the National Federation of the Blind.  “It shows that most diabetics are experiencing complications, so the industry needs to develop products and technologies that are accessible to people with complications, such as vision loss or amputation.”  Ley pointed out that many diabetes technologies, such as insulin pumps, couldn’t be fully used by the blind.

Annette Gordon wants to be a part of the wake-up call.  Gordon, 61 and a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, ignored her diabetes for nearly twenty years, until it cost her both her vision and her teeth.  After taking a course on the skills of blindness, Gordon has learned to live with this complication.  Gordon said she has newfound confidence, and can do more now than before she lost her vision.  “Blindness opened up a bigger world for me,” she noted.  At the same time, she wants to make sure other diabetics don’t make the mistake of ignoring their disease until complications arise.  “I’m going to shout it from the housetop!” she said with a smile. 

“Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness, and consequently there are many blind people living with this disease,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.  “It is important that blind people be able to manage the condition effectively and independently.  The National Federation of the Blind believes that blindness can be reduced to a physical nuisance with proper training.  By the same token, diabetics can live full and productive lives as long as they learn to manage their diabetes well.”

“The State of Diabetes Complications in America” report was created in partnership by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), along with the NFB, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) and Mended Hearts.