Individuals with diabetes are likely accustomed to regular insulin injections or a strict diet. But are they as familiar with regular eye examinations? According to the results of a 2013 survey coinciding with National Diabetes Month, the majority of diabetic patients would say no, even though diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss in the US.
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 25 million Americans suffer from diabetes.
The type 2 diabetes (resource no longer available at www.cdc.gov). The survey revealed that 1 in 4 people do not receive their annual eye exam, and the reasons for this are largely down to lack of awareness.
In detail, only 36% of people with diabetes said they had spoken with their doctor regarding their risk of vision loss when they were diagnosed, and 22% had never spoken to their doctor about this topic.
Of those who have never had a retina eye exam, 13% said it was because they believed they had not had diabetes long enough for it to affect their vision.
Over 50% of respondents were unaware that diabetic macular edema was a leading cause of vision loss or blindness for diabetes sufferers, and 32% did not know they needed a dilated eye exam.
Needless to say, the results of this survey are worrying, especially considering the millions of diabetes sufferers who are at risk of eye disease.
Dr. Awh said there is no doubt that there needs to be more awareness among diabetic patients regarding potential vision loss and the need for regular testing.
"In part it comes from the primary care doctors and nurses. Broader public awareness and education is also needed," he added.
One diabetes sufferer told Medical News Today that if it was not for her awareness of the risk of diabetic eye disease, the quick actions of her endocrinologist and regular eye tests, she may have lost all vision.
On the next page we describe how regular eye exams saved the sight of Suzanne Gardner. We also discuss how you can reduce your risk of diabetic eye disease.