I Have Diabetes — How Often Should I Have My Eyes Checked?

Let’s face it, managing your diabetes can seem overwhelming at times. But a comprehensive diabetes eye exam is painless, take

All those daily finger sticks to check your blood sugar and diagnostic labs designed to monitor your diabetes control can put a kink in your schedule and get downright painful at times. But they’re a necessary part of preventing the serious health complications associated with diabetes. Diabetic eye exams are just as necessary when it comes to detecting the early warning signs of diabetes-related complications that threaten your vision.

At University Ophthalmology in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, our board-certified ophthalmologists provide comprehensive diabetic eye exams and the most advanced treatments available for eye diseases related to diabetes. Learn what this trusted team of experts has to say regarding the frequency and importance of routine diabetic eye exams.

Why do I need a special eye exam for diabetes?

People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy is a relatively common complication of diabetes that’s due to the damage persistently elevated blood sugar levels cause the tiny blood vessels nourishing your eyes.

Along with checking for refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness that are correctable with glasses and contacts, a diabetic eye exam includes careful examination of the interior portion of your eye.

This is accomplished with an exam that includes the administration of eyedrops to temporarily dilate your pupils. Your University Ophthalmology eye health specialist then has a clear view of the blood vessels, retina, macula, and other tissue structures within the eye that are vital to vision.

Everyone can benefit from the details provided during a comprehensive dilated eye exam. But they’re a very necessary component of diabetes management since, generally, treatment that can preserve your vision is most successful when an eye disease like macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy is in its earliest stages.    

How often should I have a diabetic eye exam?

The frequency of your eye exams depends on the type of diabetes you have, the results of previous exams, and other factors that can affect diabetes control, such as pregnancy.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends diabetic eye exams as directed by an ophthalmologist experienced in diabetic eye care. Generally, however, the ADA guidelines recommend you have a comprehensive exam:

If you have changes associated with diabetic-related eye disease, your University Ophthalmology specialist may recommend more frequent exams or that you proceed with any needed treatment.

What can I expect during a diabetes eye exam?

Diabetic eye exams provided at University Ophthalmology include visual acuity testing, pupil dilation, and careful examination of your inner eye structures with specialized instruments such as an ophthalmoscope.

Your eyes may be sensitive to sunshine and other bright light following the exam since the effects of the drops used to dilate your pupils last from 4-6 hours, or longer in children. Otherwise the exam is painless. No finger sticks or blood draws required.

Protect your eye health and vision with routine diabetic eye exams. Schedule a visit at University Ophthalmology today. Call our office or request your appointment online.

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