Even as a child living in Killen, Alabama, Alexia Vaughn knew she would one day be a doctor. She just wasn’t sure which type of doctor she wanted to be. Her education led her down the path to becoming an optometrist.
Educating Patients about Type 2 diabetes
As president and owner of Advanced Eye Care in Birmingham, she has dedicated her practice to providing excellent eye care to her patients. She also uses her practice to educate people about the risks of diabetes.
“I love helping my patients by advising them about how to live a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Alexia Vaughn, owner of Advanced Eye Care. “It’s important that people understand that what they eat and drink does affect the overall health of their eyes.”
Leading a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle, Vaughn states, includes at least eight hours of sleep, regular exercise, smart food choices and eye exams to protect vision. Her main reason for advocating for a healthier lifestyle is to prevent diabetes. More than 100 million adults are currently living with diabetes. Alabama ranks third in the United States for people being diagnosed with diabetes. However many with the condition remain undiagnosed.
Yearly Eye Exams
Type 1 diabetes is autoimmune and many times diagnosed in childhood. Type 2 diabetes risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition. Having your eyes examined once a year is a one way to detect the uncontrolled disease adds Vaughn. She goes on to say that African-Americans and the elderly are significantly more likely to have and die from diabetes. And, the disease is more prevalent in rural areas.
“I have chosen to advocate for early detection of diabetes and changing one’s lifestyle because it is predicted that in the next 30 years, one in three will be living with the disease. People living with diabetes is on the rise because of an increase in obesity rates, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition. That means the rate of blindness from this disease will rise as well,” added Vaughn.
Diabetes in Alabama’s Black Belt
Alabama’s Black Belt is known as the diabetes belt. Vaughn is working towards decreasing the increased rate of the disease by educating the people who live in the area. “Until we increase educational programs in the Black Belt, the number of people being diagnosed or undiagnosed will continue to rise. I am working every day to close the gap between health disparities in this part of the state,” she stated.
Vaughn recommends that people get regular exercise at least 150 minutes per week, eat a proper diet low in processed foods and high in fruits and vegetables, and to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.