Dilated Eye Exams

Vision Services

It is important to take good care of your eyes when you have diabetes.

If you’re living with diabetes, it’s important for you to see an ophthalmologist or optometrist for a yearly dilated eye exam. A dilated eye exam can help your doctor find and treat serious eye diseases that are common among people with diabetes. Some of these diseases can cause loss of vision or blindness, including:

  • Retinopathy causes small blood vessels in the retina (at the back of the eye) to get weak and possibly leak blood. This disease can cause blindness if it is not treated. There are no symptoms when this disease starts, so it is important to get your eyes checked regularly.
  • Cataract causes a “clouding” of the lens of the eye that makes vision blurry. People with diabetes are more likely to get cataracts.
  • Glaucoma causes pressure in the eye. If it is not treated, glaucoma can cause vision loss or blindness.

What is a dilated eye exam?

In this exam, the eye doctor will put drops in your eyes to see the retina. The eye drops will make the pupils, the black part of your eyes, bigger. Then your doctor can see the back of your eye and find any eye problems early.

When you need to get an eye exam:

Adults with Type 1 Diabetes

You need to have a dilated eye exam within five years of being diagnosed and every year after that.

Adults with Type 2 Diabetes

You need to have a dilated exam soon after you have found out you have diabetes. About 1 in 5 people with type 2 diabetes have some eye problems when they are diagnosed with diabetes. That’s why it’s important to have an eye exam soon after you find out you have diabetes.
After the first eye exam, all adults with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam every year, although your doctor may suggest every 2 or 3 years after a normal exam. Exams may be needed more often than once a year if you have eye problems.

Diabetes and Pregnancy

If you are planning to get pregnant, have a complete eye exam. Talk with your eye doctor about what can happen to your eyes during pregnancy.
Pregnant women with diabetes need an eye exam in the first 3 months. They also need to be checked again for one year after the baby is born.

Tips to keep your eyes healthy:

  • Get a dilated eye exam from your eye doctor at least once a year.
  • Keep your next eye doctor appointment.
  • Keep track of and tell your eye doctor about any changes in how you see.

Visit your eye doctor right away if you:

  • See little black lines or spots that don’t go away.
  • See any red spots.
  • See red fog.
  • Have a sudden change in how clearly you see.
  • Take longer than usual to adjust to darkness.

For more information,
or to schedule an appointment:

Contact the Vision Services Department at a clinic near you or fill out the form below.

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