Large Proportion of Diabetics Pass on Annual Eye Exams


Despite individuals with diabetes having a higher risk of developing serious eye diseases, more than half skip out on their annual eye exams.

Despite individuals with diabetes having a higher risk of developing serious eye diseases, more than half skip out on their annual eye exams.

Researchers also found that patients who were smokers, those with less severe diabetes and no eye problems were the most likely to not go for these annual checkups. The study, a collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was presented at the 2016 American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) annual meeting.

Researchers examined the charts of nearly 2000 patients age 40 and above with type 1 or 2 diabetes to identify how many of them had regular eye exams. The results of the study showed that 58% of patients did not have regular follow-up eye exams.

Smokers were 20% less likely to have these exams, while individuals with less severe disease and no eye problems were less likely to follow recommendations. Patients with diabetic retinopathy were 30% more likely to have follow-up exams.

It’s estimated that 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes. Individuals with the disease have an increased risk of visual impairment as a result of the diabetic retinopathy.

A dilated eye exam annually or more often, as recommended by the AAO, can prevent 95% of diabetes-related vision loss.

“Vision loss is tragic, especially when it is preventable,” said lead study author Ann P. Murchison, MD, MPH. “That’s why we want to raise awareness and ensure people with diabetes understand the importance of regular eye exams.”

It’s important to go for annual eye exams because they can reveal any hidden signs of disease, resulting in early treatment. Because of this, the academy has released a new animated public service announcement to help educate individuals on the importance of regular exams and common eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy.

“People with diabetes need to know that they shouldn’t wait until they experience problems to get these exams,” said Rahul N. Khurana, MD, clinical spokesperson for the Academy. “Getting your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist can reveal the signs of disease that patients aren’t aware of.”

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