Why do I need an eye exam when I have diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association "Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in people 18-64 years old."
How often should I get a diabetic eye exam?
The American Diabetes Association recommends routine annual eye examinations, which can reduce the risk of vision loss caused by diabetes by 95%.
What tests are performed at a diabetic eye exam?
The most important part of a diabetic eye exam is the retinal evaluation. The standard of care is for your optometrist or ophthalmologist to examine the retina through dilated pupils. The pupil is the opening to the eye in which your eye doctor looks through to see inside. Your eye doctor will use drops in office to dilate the pupil, making it big enough to view the entirety of the inside of the eye. Your eye doctor will also likely take pictures of the inside of the eye, which are great for viewing the retina as whole and documenting successive photos can show subtle changes over time. The blood vessels on the inside of the eye are the only ones you can examine "live" (without having to cut you open!). If your eye doctor sees changes or damage in the blood vessels inside the eye, we can extrapolate that those changes are going on throughout the body and in other organs like the heart, kidneys, and brain. It is important to diagnose and treat diabetic changes inside the eye to preserve the vision, but the systemic blood sugar must be addressed more aggressively so that damage in the other organs can be minimized.