What is involved in an eye examination for people with diabetes?

Having diabetes can lead to your eyes being harmed because diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your retina, which is called diabetic retinopathy, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

It is important to have an eye exam once to twice a year, or possible, even more often, depending on how much diabetes causes problems with your eyes, according to the NIH. The eye doctor will likely begin by having you read an eye chart of random letters of different sizes.

The eye doctor will also do a dilated retinal exam, which starts with eye drops that will dilate your eye so the doctor can see the back of the eye better, according to the NIH. The doctor will use a bright light and look through a magnifying glass to see to the back of your eye and examine any areas possibly damaged by diabetes.

The doctor will look at:

  • The back of the eye
  • Blood vessels in the front and middle of the eye
  • The optic nerve

Your cornea – the clear surface of your eye – will also be examined using a device called a slit lamp, according to the NIH.

Talk to your doctor or eye doctor for more information about what else could be included in an eye exam when you have diabetes.

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