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Why Should I Visit the Eye Doctor when I Have Diabetes?

Eye disease is very common among people with diabetes and yearly eye exams are critical.  "Usually there are no symptoms in the earliest stages and the condition may require an eye exam to be detected," according to Jerry Cavallerano, O.D., Ph.D., at Joslin Diabetes Center's Beetham Eye Institute.  "There are very effective treatments to help preserve vision if you develop sight-threatening retinopathy, but these treatments are most effective if initiated before any vision is lost."

At Joslin, all ophthalmologists are retinal specialists with extensive experience in caring for diabetic retinopathy and other common eye diseases that affect people with diabetes, such as cataracts.  Cataracts may develop at a younger age and progress more rapidly in people with diabetes, which is another reason to get a yearly eye exam.

Joslin's Beetham Eye Institute has been at the forefront in researching how to treat and prevent diabetic eye diseases, and is currently running 24 clinical trials.  As a result, eye care at Joslin includes the most advanced diagnostics and treatments available anywhere.

When Else Should People with Diabetes Visit the Eye Doctor?

  • If you are a woman with diabetes who is planning pregnancy or who is in the early stages of pregnancy.
  • If you have blurred vision, floating spots in your visual field, flashing lights, or unusual eye pain.

Reducing your Risk for Diabetic Eye Disease

Early care and treatment can help you maintain your vision with diabetes.  Have a yearly eye exam; keep good control of your diabetes and accompanying conditions such as blood pressure, kidney disease and anemia; and quit smoking, Cavallerano says.  "Although there are no guarantees, these are all ways you can significantly reduce the risk of developing retinopathy or having it progress."

To make an appointment at Joslin's Beetham Eye Institute, please call (617) 732-2552.

For information about preparing for your appointment, click here.

Fighting Long-Term Complications explains cardiovascular, eye, kidney, foot, nerve and other problems, and offers expert advice on how to minimize and treat them if they occur.

Purchase this book from the Joslin Store.

Page last updated: September 15, 2019