Maintaining Healthy Vision In Patients With Diabetes

It is possible to have diabetic retinopathy (DR) without any symptoms, however, it is also possible for symptoms to appear and then resolve. Because symptomatology does not necessarily correlate with the presence of disease, dilated eye exams are imperative for people with and without symptoms.1 Early detection and treatment of DR can lower the risk of blindness by 90%.2 Still, referral for dilated eye examination is provided for <50% of diabetic patients seen by primary care and <86% seen by endocrinology.3,4

What you can do:

  • Refer for a yearly dilated eye examination, even if the patient does not have symptoms1
  • If the patient has already been diagnosed with DR, encourage them to keep the follow-up schedule as recommended by their eye doctor​
  • Don’t delay treatment: The better the vision is prior to treatment, the better the vision will be after treatment5​
  • Encourage appropriate blood sugar levels6​
  • Ensure medications are taken as directed6​
  • Make sure hypertension and hyperlipidemia are controlled, if present7,8​
  • Encourage moderate aerobic exercise that gets the heart pumping for a total of 2 ½ hours per week, a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight9


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Scientific Council

Neil M. Bressler, MD

James P. Gills Professor of Ophthalmology
Professor of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Baltimore, MD

A. Paul Chous, MA, OD, FAAO

Specializing in Diabetes Eye Care & Education, Chous Eye Care Associates
Adjunct Professor of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences
AOA Representative, National Diabetes Education Program
Tacoma, WA

Steven Ferrucci, OD, FAAO

Chief of Optometry, Sepulveda VA Medical Center
Professor, Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Sepulveda, CA

Julia A. Haller, MD

Wills Eye Hospital
Philadelphia, PA

Allen C. Ho, MD, FACS

Director, Retina Research
Wills Eye Hospital
Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology
Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals
Philadelphia, PA

Charles C. Wykoff, MD, PhD

Director of Research, Retina Consultants of Houston
Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology
Blanton Eye Institute & Houston Methodist Hospital
Houston, TX

Diabetes Educators Scientific and Educational Toolkit

The RELIEF Diabetes Educators Toolkit is an online resource that aims to provide clinically relevant information and various educational tools about the recognition and diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy (DR), treatment strategies, and resources to enhance collaborative eye care. Click on one of the options below to learn more about DR and ways to help maintain healthy vision in patients with diabetes.

This activity for Diabetic Retinopathy education is provided by Med Learning Group.
This activity is supported by an independent medical education grant from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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