One in 10 American’s have diabetes which puts them at heightened risk for visual impairment caused by the eye disease diabetic retinopathy. The disease can lead to loss of eye sight if not detected and treated in time. Having an annual eye exam (including dilation) can often prevent 95% of diabetes-related vision loss.
At a recent meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, data was presented regarding a study conducted by Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the study, 2000 patient charts of people age 40 or older with type 1 and type 2 diabetes were reviewed to see how many of these people had regular eye exams. Results of the study revealed:
“58% of patients did not have regular follow-up eye exams.”
“Smokers were 20% less likely to have exams.”
“Those with less-severe disease and no eye problems were least likely to follow recommendations.”
The Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people with diabetes have an annual eye exam (at a minimum) or more frequent if recommended by their ophthalmologist. There is an ongoing need to educate people with diabetes regarding diabetic retinopathy, and the importance of eye exams to decrease the risk of vision loss. People with diabetes should understand that it is important to get their eyes examined on a regular basis even if they are not experiencing vision issues.
The Academy of Ophthalmology offers information about diabetic eye disease through the Academy’s EyeSmart website. In addition, people 65 and older may be eligible to get a medical eye exam at no cost through Eye Care America which is a public service program of the Academy.
Nonadherence to Eye Care in People with Diabetes was presented at AAO 2016, the 120th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology