Why Should Diabetics have Yearly Eye Exams?

May 18, 2016

Why Should Diabetics have Yearly Eye Exams?

According to a study published earlier this year in JAMA, nearly 50% of adults living in the U.S. have diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition where a person already has elevated blood sugar and is at risk to develop diabetes.

Diabetes is a costly disease in more ways than one. In 2012, over $245 billion was spent in the United States alone on diabetic care. Additionally, the American Diabetes Association reports that nearly 71,000 persons die annually due to complications associated with diabetes.

To simplify the mechanics of diabetes, remember this – elevation in blood sugar levels will eventually damage the small blood vessels in the body, causing poor circulation. The human eye has many small capillaries and arterioles. When the eye is dilated, doctors can see those blood vessels in perfect detail. Because the eye is the only place in the body where blood vessels can be viewed without cutting into the skin, it acts as a window into the body, allowing doctors to view diabetic progression. Finding changes and damage to the body at the earliest possible stage is key to diabetes management. That is why diabetics need an annual eye exam.

The eye exam is the easiest method to determine if diabetes is causing damage to the body. At Vision Center PC, doctors take digital photos of the eye’s blood vessels and compare them every year. At the first signs of leakage or bleeding, the appropriate specialist is notified, so the eyesight can be saved.

Eye doctors are often the first practitioners to diagnose diabetes thanks to the comprehensive dilated eye exam. If you have a family history of diabetes, or have a history of high blood sugar levels, make sure you have a yearly eye exam. Along with diet and exercise, it is the best preventative tool we have.