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Sixty Percent of Americans with Diabetes Skip Annual Sight-Saving Exams: November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing serious eye diseases. Yet most do not have sight-saving, annual eye exams, according to a large study. Regional Eye Associates joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology to recommend patients of 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 diabetes skip ophthalmic 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 evaluations. 


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:

  • Fifty-eight percent of patients did not have regular follow-up eye exams

  • Smokers were 20 percent 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 percent more likely to have follow-up exams

    National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020 (PDF)

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.

Diabetic macular edema

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. In addition, Dr. Miano and Dr. Goel have the latest ophthalmic diagnostic equipment to assess and follow patients for diabetes and multiple eye diseases. 

“Vision loss is tragic, especially when it is preventable,” said Ann P. Murchison, M.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and director of the eye emergency department at Wills Eye Hospital. “That’s why we want to raise awareness and ensure people with diabetes understand the importance of regular eye exams.”  

The Academy offers this animated public service announcement to help educate people about the importance of regular exams and common eye diseases including diabetic retinopathy. It encourages the public to watch and share it with their friends and family. 

“People with diabetes need to know that they shouldn't wait until they experience problems to get these exams,” Rahul N. Khurana, M.D, clinical spokesperson for the Academy. “Getting your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist can reveal the signs of disease that patients aren’t aware of.

To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.


Dr. Miano and Dr. Goel are board-certified comprehensive ophthalmologists. Dr. Miano and Dr. Goel are available to evaluate overall eye health and discuss treatment options for common ophthalmic conditions including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, and dry eye.

Call 856-795-8787 to schedule an office visit or telemedicine consultation.


Our Optical Shop is also open by appointment! Call 856-795-8564 to schedule a time with our opticians.

To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.  The photos in our newsletter are from and Unsplash (With thanks to KateDavid TravisDaniil Kuželev, Harry QuanMari Lezhava)

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