What Is the Importance of Eye Exams for Diabetics?


Quick Answer

Regular eye exams can detect diabetic eye diseases when they are asymptomatic and prevent permanent vision loss, according to the National Eye Institute. Early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by 95 percent. Common diabetic eye diseases include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma.

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Full Answer

Diabetics should have a comprehensive eye exam at least every year, states the National Eye Institute. A pregnant woman who is diabetic should schedule an eye exam as soon as she knows she is pregnant and may require additional exams during the pregnancy. People who already have diabetic retinopathy may also need eye exams more frequently.

To detect diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, a doctor uses a comprehensive dilated eye examination, explains the National Eye Institute. During this exam, the doctor checks the pressure inside the eye and tests the person's eyesight with an eye chart. He uses optical coherence tomography to create detailed images of the eye using light waves.

During the eye exam, the doctor also dilates the eye with drops to check the optic nerve and retina for any abnormalities, notes the National Eye Institute. These abnormalities include leaking blood vessels, fatty deposits, lens changes, nerve tissue damage and macular edema. Sometimes a doctor uses a fluorescein angiogram to detect changes in blood vessels when he suspects the patient has a diabetic eye disease. This test uses fluorescent dye to detect leaky or damaged blood vessels.

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