Optometrist: Why yearly eye exams are important for people with diabetes

For the 30 million Americans living with diabetes, the need for a yearly eye exam is critical.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 5:05 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - November is National Diabetes Month, and optometrists like Dr. Rasika Whitesell hope to raise awareness about preventing vision loss in people with diabetes.

“Diabetes in the eye is very common,” said Whitesell. “The main symptom they have is blurry vision, but if diabetes and the sugars are not well controlled, there can be bleeding in the retina and that can cause severe vision loss.”

Over 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and this raises the risk of vision loss and blindness from diabetic eye diseases.

“I have diagnosed a lot of people that had no symptoms going in but had bleeding in the retina,” Whitesell said. “We don’t have pain receptors in the backs of our eyes.”

Whitesell recommends yearly eye exams because they can detect the condition before a person notices anything is amiss. The National Eye Institute says that early detection and treatment can lower the risk of blindness by 95 percent.

“I’ve had a lot of patients come in, and their sugars are through the roof, and it’s causing blurry vision. And they don’t know if it’s just the eyeglasses that need to be tweaked or if it’s the actual diabetes.”

With this in mind, Whitesell recommends taking a trip to an optometrist to prevent serious damage before it is too late.