November 2011

Get an Eye Exam During Diabetes Month

If you haven’t had a dilated eye exam lately, November is an ideal time to make an appointment for one. It’s American Diabetes Month, and eye disease is one of the most common and debilitating complications of diabetes. NIH especially encourages people with diabetes to take steps to avoid vision loss by having the exam each year.

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults nationwide. An eye disorder known as diabetic retinopathy arises in about 40% of U.S. adults with diabetes. It occurs when blood vessels of the retina swell and leak fluid. In some cases, blood vessels become blocked and rupture, or new vessels grow on the retina, leading to permanent vision loss.

People with diabetes are also at risk for cataracts, which cause clouding of the eye lens, and glaucoma, which damages the optic nerve. 

Comprehensive, dilated eye exams allow eye care professionals to monitor the eye, including the retina, for signs of disease. Diabetic retinopathy usually has no symptoms until vision loss occurs, but annual dilated eye exams can identify signs of it. In fact, about 90% of diabetes-related blindness is preventable through early detection, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care.

To learn more about diabetic eye disease, visit Or send a friend or family member a free e-card, in English or Spanish, by going to