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Diabetic Eye Exam: What To Expect Each Year

Diabetic Eye Exam: What To Expect Each Year

If you’re a diabetic, chances are your medical doctor puts you through a regular series of testing each year to make sure your sugar levels are staying under control. One of the things he or she will ask is if you’ve had your yearly diabetic eye exam. When an optometrist performs a thorough, dilated eye health check, he can determine if your sugar is fluctuating enough that it is affecting the back lining of your eye.

Diabetes can cause rapid cataract development, diabetic retinopathy, and more – so it’s important to have your eyes examined at least yearly. Here’s what you can expect from your diabetic eye exam:

1. Expect A Thorough, Dilated Eye Health Check

An eye dilation is when your eye doctor administers a medicated drop into your eye which allows your pupil to expand. When your eye is dilated, your doctor is able to look through it with his microscopes to fully observe your retina – the back lining of your eye.

Your retina may be small, but its functions have huge ramifications for your vision and overall life. The retina is the part of your eye that takes images in from the outside world and transmits them to your brain, and is full of the photo receptors with which we see. It’s also home to your macula, which controls your central vision, as well as your optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain.

So since a bunch of important things are going on in this tiny space, it’s critical to monitor it and ensure that your sugar is not damaging the retina when it fluctuates up and down. 

2. Expect Us To Ask Several Questions About Your Current Control Over Your Sugar

We’ll need to know a few things about the current state of your diabetes in order to determine the actual condition of your eyes, so expect us to ask:

-What was your last A1C ?

-How do you control your diabetes (oral medication, insulin pump, diet and exercise, etc.), and how tightly controlled is it most of the time?

-Do you feel that your diabetes has been affecting your vision? Have you been experiencing irregular blurry vision or increasing cloudiness? 

-Do you see your medical doctor regularly for diabetic exams?

3. Expect The Exam To Be Billed To Your Medical Insurance

Because a diabetic exam has to do with a medical condition, it cannot be billed to your vision insurance. It is considered a medical eye exam and we are legally bound to bill it to your medical insurance. We’ll verify your insurance ahead of time and also ask you for your medical insurance cards to scan so that we have a current copy at all times. You will be charged your specialist co-pay at the time of your visit.

4. Expect Us To Potentially Refer You To An Ophthalmologist If We Find Diabetic Eye Issues

If our doctors see even remote signs of bleeding or swelling in your eyes due to your diabetes, they’ll first encourage you to do everything you can to get your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol under tighter control to prevent further damage.

However, if the bleeding and swelling is too out of control, we’ll refer you out to an ophthalmologist, who will evaluate your eyes for possible laser surgery or injections to stop the bleeding. There are two ophthalmologist offices here in Meadville, and we have been able to depend on the doctors at both to care for our patients, so we’ll make sure you’re in good hands!

So there you have it! The four above steps are our standard of care for any diabetic patient that comes to see us. We will do everything we can to help you protect your eyes from the damage diabetes can cause. If you’re a diabetic, contact us to set up your diabetic eye exam!