If you have diabetes, you may be vigilant about monitoring what you eat, getting enough exercise, and seeing your primary care doctor. But are you as committed to maintaining your eye health as well? People who have diabetes — about one out of every 10 people in the U.S. — are at increased risk of developing serious eye disease. Yet, according to a large study, most of them are not getting the annual, sight-saving eye exams they need to preserve their vision.
Collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia set out to assess how many people with diabetes had regular eye exams. To do this, they reviewed medical charts over a 4-year period of nearly 2,000 patients age 40 or older with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They found that more than half of patients with diabetes skip recommended annual dilated eye exams.
The study also found that:
- patients who smoke, as well as those who have less severe diabetes and no current eye problems, were most likely to neglect having these important eye checks.
- people who had been diagnosed with diabetic eye disease were 30 percent more likely to have follow-up exams than those without the disease.
Having a dilated eye exam yearly or as recommended by an ophthalmologist can prevent 95 percent of diabetes-related vision loss.
“People with diabetes need to know that they shouldn’t wait until they experience problems to get these exams,” explains Rahul N. Khurana, MD a California-based ophthalmologist specializing in retinal disease. “Getting your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist can reveal the signs of disease that patients aren’t aware of.”