May is Healthy Vision Month: Learn more about Diabetic Eye Health

Content created and curated by Angelica Sistrunk

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

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Illustration/ Angelica Sistrunk

Diabetic Retinopathy is a type of diabetic eye disease that effects the quality of vision in patients with diabetes. This eye disease is caused by too much sugar in the blood that can damage the retina, the part of your eye that detects light and sends signals to your brain through your optic nerve. Damage to the blood vessels in the eye may cause them to swell and leak which can result in blurry or complete vision loss.

How do I know if I have retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy screenings are the most effective way to know if you have retinopathy. If you experience floaters in the eye or extreme sensitivity, call your provider and schedule a nurse visit for a retinopathy screening.

How will I know if I need to get screened?

If you are patient with diabetes, including subgroups Type I or Type II, and are between the ages of 20 and 75+, you should receive retinopathy screening.

Where can I get screened?

Why should I get screened?

It is important to get screened because diabetic retinopathy is very common and many people living with diabetes have it. Regular retinopathy screenings are a part of diabetes monitoring and should be taken seriously. If unchecked and untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.

Do I need to have insurance to be screened?

No, you do not need insurance to be screened at CHC. We have a commitment to serving people who are uninsured or underinsured.

How often should I get my eyes checked?

Patients with diabetes should schedule screenings every year. If you have diabetic retinopathy, you should have your eyes checked every six months.

What happens at the appointment?

During a diabetic retinopathy screening a nurse will check your blood pressure, A1C levels, ask about diet and medicine adherence, and create or follow up with your self-management goals. After that, they will perform a foot check to test for signs of neuropathy, damage to the nerves resulting in feelings of numbness or weakness. After the foot check, a medical assistant will come to perform the retinal imaging part of your appointment. They will use a special camera to take pictures to check the inside of your eyes.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

You can bring your eye glasses or sunglasses, and a list of the medications you are currently taking with you to your appointment.

Does screening hurt?

No, diabetic retinopathy screening does not hurt. You may feel some slight discomfort during the foot check. However, if you are in pain during any part of your appointment, let your provider know right away.

Can I drive after being screened?

If your eyes have not been dilated during your screening, it is safe to drive home. If your eyes have been dilated during the exam, it will not be safe to drive home as it takes a few hours for the effects of the eye drops to wear off. Ask your office if your eyes will be dilated during the exam, and plan to take a friend or family member with you.

How long will it be until I get my results?

After the images are reviewed by a specialist your CHC office will inform you of your results within a week.