In a study published in the March 2001 issue of Diabetes Care, however, researchers studying retinal photographs taken during the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial discovered that in people with Type 1 diabetes, the progression of diabetic retinopathy begins even earlier than had previously been thought. Waiting up to five years to have an initial eye exam is too long, they suggested, because it may already be too late for the best treatment. They concluded that all individuals newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes should have an eye exam upon diagnosis.
With recent improvements in treatments, the chances of avoiding vision loss from diabetes- and age-related eye conditions are greater than ever, but vigilance is key. If you have never had a dilated eye exam or haven’t had one within the past year, ask your doctor for a referral to an eye-care professional who is trained to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. Take this important step now, and follow up with yearly visits.