Most diabetics don’t get eye exams, study finds

Fifty-eight percent of people with diabetes don’t have regular follow-up eye exams.

Researchers at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia also found patients who smoke, have less severe diabetes or no eye problems were most likely to skip their annual eye exam. Findings were presented at AAO 2016, the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“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 AAO in a press release. “Getting your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist can reveal the signs of disease that patients aren’t aware of.”

People with diabetes have an increased risk for vision problems because of the eye disease diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to other blinding vision complications if not treated in time. A dilated eye exam at least once a year can prevent 95 percent of diabetes-related vision loss.

“Vision loss is tragic, especially when it is preventable,” said Ann P. Murchison, MD, MPH, lead author of the study and director of the eye emergency department at Wills Eye Hospital in a press release. “That’s why we want to raise awareness and ensure people with diabetes understand the importance of regular eye exams.”

Researchers worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to review the charts of about 2,000 patients age 40 and older with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to see how many had regular eye exams over a four-year period. 

Topics: Clinical