Diabetics Should Never Skip Eye Exams

Adults in the United States who are diabetic are not having regular eye exams as often as they should. According to a recent National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the number of diabetics who have visited an ophthalmologist or optometrist in the past 12 months increases with age and longer disease duration, but it is still not ideal.

Maria Villarroel, Ph.D., associate service fellow for the National Center for Health Statistics, and a team of researchers examined data concerning diabetics and their frequency of eye examinations. Overall, 57.6 percent of adults with diabetes reported having had an eye exam in the past year. Broken down by age group, the percentage of US adults who visited an ophthalmologist or optometrist in the past 12 months is:

  • 38.2 percent for ages 18 to 39
  • 53.8 percent for ages 40 to 64
  • 66.5 percent for ages 65 and older

Dr. Villarroel and her team also discovered a pattern linking the frequency of eye exams with how many years an individual had been treated for diabetes. The longer he or she had diabetes, the more frequent the eye exams.“The American Diabetes Association recommends that patients with diabetes have a yearly eye exam if there is evidence of retinal damage, so these patients need to have an eye exam every year,” Dr. Villarroel said. “And for those who do not have any signs of retinal damage, the recommendation is to have an eye exam every two years.”

If you are diabetic, make certain that you are visiting your eye doctor at least once every two years. If you have diabetic retinopathy, you should schedule exams even more frequently. Diabetes can cause permanent eye damage, but it is treatable in the early stages. Don’t put your eyes at risk. Talk to your doctor about how often you should have your eyes examined to keep your vision clear and healthy (Source: Medscape).

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