Annual Eye Exams Necessary For Those With Diabetes

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The American Diabetes Association released new research today, which examines the level of awareness and understanding of eye health for people who are living with diabetes. The research found that while 96 percent of those surveyed were aware that diabetes could lead to blindness, 20 percent of those have not had an eye exam in the past 12 months—demonstrating that awareness does not always drive action when it comes to eye health. The study was conducted by Harris Interactive.

More than 10 percent of Latinos have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is almost that of whites. If current trends continue, 50 percent of Blacks and Latinos will develop Type 2 diabetes. Along with being diagnosed with diabetes, many are also diagnosed with other health conditions tied to diabetes.

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“Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults,” said John E. Anderson, MD, President, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association. “For the nearly 20 million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S., it is critical that they receive an annual eye exam to avoid complications and lower their risk of glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems such as diabetic macular edema.”

Since May is Healthy Vision Month, this research demonstrates the need for continued to educate people with diabetes about the importance of eye health, and receiving an annual eye exam.”

The Diabetes Eye Health Study, which was funded by a grant from Genentech, surveyed adults in the U.S. who are currently diagnosed with diabetes, and explored issues around awareness and level of concern about blindness caused by diabetes. For these people diagnosed with diabetes, the importance of annual eye exams, whether they had a recent exam including dilation and where they learned about recommendations for eye exams were also surveyed.

Additional key findings include:

Those diagnosed are concerned about blindness associated with their diabetes. Approximately 74 percent report that they are at least somewhat personally concerned about the association between diabetes and blindness.
83 percent believe that it is extremely or very important to have an annual eye exam.
While 96 percent of those diagnosed are aware that diabetes can lead to blindness and 98 percent of those diagnosed believe that it is at least somewhat important to have an annual eye exam, 87 percent are aware that it is recommended to have an annual dilated eye exam. This suggests that people diagnosed with diabetes are not always aware of recommended care to prevent eye complications associated with their diabetes.
Awareness of the need for an annual dilated eye exam comes primarily from health care professionals—Doctor/Physician (82 percent) and Optometrist (46 percent).
Nearly all (97 percent) of those diagnosed with diabetes who have ever had an eye exam have done so since their diagnosis. However, out of this group, 13 percent report not having their eyes dilated at their last exam, even when aware that it is recommended.
There is a near even split in familiarity regarding the condition diabetic macular edema. 52 percent of those diagnosed are not at all familiar with this condition, even among those who have had an eye exam and dilation at their most recent exam since diagnosis.