How To Help Your Patients With Diabetic Eye Disease

How To Help Your Patients With Diabetic Eye Disease

16 November 2020


Diabetes is a leading cause of vision impairment among working-age adults in the United States. From 2010 to 2050, the number of Americans with diabetic retinopathy is projected to increase from 7.7 million to 14.6 million.

The goal of November’s Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month is to encourage people to protect themselves from diabetes and understand how the disease affects the eyes. As an eye care provider, you can promote awareness about diabetic eye disease in several ways, including in the exam room, through social media and community outreach.

Importance of Diabetic Eye Screenings

Ensuring optimal eye health in your patients with diabetes starts with routine diabetic eye exams. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people with Type 1 diabetes receive a diabetic eye exam five years after the diagnosis of the disease. Patients with Type 2 diabetes should have an eye exam at the time of diagnosis and then continue with yearly exams.

Set up automated exam reminders for your patients to let them know when it’s time to return for their diabetic screening. Emphasize that the visit is for an eye health checkup and not simply for a vision exam, as some people may not feel inclined to return if they don’t have vision symptoms.

Here are some talking points to help your patients understand how prevention and early detection can save vision:

  • Controlling blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol lower the risk of diabetic retinopathy. Encourage patients to check their blood sugar and blood pressure at home regularly.
  • Diabetic retinopathy can remain asymptomatic for years, even at more advanced stages. The only way to detect diabetic retinopathy is through a dilated fundus exam and retinal imaging.
  • Diabetes also carries an increased risk of refractive changes, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic macular edema. Vitreous hemorrhages and retinal detachments can also present in advanced diabetic retinopathy. You can instruct patients to monitor for vision symptoms such as:
    • Blurry vision
    • Dark or wavy spots in the vision
    • Increased floaters
    • Decreased night vision
    • A shift in color vision
  • Pregnancy increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy. Women with diabetes (type 1 or 2) who plan to become pregnant should have an eye exam before pregnancy and during the first trimester.
  • Studies find that a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise may decrease the risk of developing diabetes and the associated vision complications. Other health tips to share:
    • Avoid smoking, which increases the risk of cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
    • Wear sunglasses with 100 percent protection from UV rays to lower the risk of cataract progression and macular damage.

Protect Eye Health With Top-Quality Lens Products

R&D Optical Lab, an independent, cutting-edge lab, works closely with eye care providers to provide patients with superior lens products that optimize vision and preserve eye health. We customize sun prescriptions to suit many visual needs, including mirrored, photochromic, polarized and performance tints. We also carry quality blue light blocking lenses, the Bluloc and BluTech lines. To learn more about our products, please contact us at 513-273-4034 or visit our website For more tips and our latest updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or LinkedIn!

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