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November 5, 2019

Did you know that 60% of Americans with diabetes skip annual eye exams? According to a large study, most people don’t know that having diabetes increases the risk of developing serious eye diseases. Shofner Vision Center joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in reiterating the importance of eye exams during the month of November, which is observed as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month.

Researchers at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia have found that more than half of patients with the disease skip these exams. They also discovered that patients who smoke – and those with less severe diabetes and no eye problems – were most likely to neglect having these checks. The researchers collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to review the charts of close to 2,000 patients age 40 or older with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to see how many had regular eye exams. Their findings over a four-year period revealed that:

  • 58% percent of patients did NOT have regular follow-up eye exams
  • Smokers were 20% less likely to have exams
  • Those with less-severe disease and no eye problems were least likely to follow recommendations
  • Those who had diabetic retinopathy were 30% more likely to have follow-up exams

More eye-opening statistics…one in 10 Americans have diabetes, putting them at heightened risk for visual impairment due to the eye disease diabetic retinopathy. The disease also can lead to other blinding ocular complications if not treated in time. Fortunately, having a dilated eye exam yearly or more often can prevent 95 percent of diabetes-related vision loss.

Eye exams are critical as they can reveal hidden signs of disease, enabling timely treatment. This is why the Academy recommends people with diabetes have them annually or more often as recommended by their ophthalmologist, a physician who specializes in medical and surgical eye care.

“As an ophthalmologist, I can detect diabetes by looking at the blood vessels in the back of eyes to determine their health,” says Dr. Shofner. Additionally, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, sexually transmitted diseases and cancers are among the illnesses that can also be detected during a comprehensive eye exam.

Scheduling a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year is vital for people with diabetes. Shofner Vision Center will provide consistent and mindful care to help diabetic patients keep their vision and treat impairment. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, we encourage you to contact your local vision care center professional or if you are in the Nashville area, contact Dr. Shofner online or at (615) 340-4733.

Share this post and use these hash tags below to help spread this important awareness: #DiabetesAwarenessMonth, #diabeticeyediseaseawarenessmonth, #diabetes

Fundus photo showing scatter laser surgery for diabetic retinopathy.



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