Vision Care

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Diabetic Retinal Exam FAQs


What is diabetic retinopathy?


Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that causes changes to the blood vessels in the back part of your eye, called the retina. Left undetected, these changes can cause vision loss and even blindness.



What is a diabetic retinal exam?

Diabetic Retinal Exam

Diabetic retinal exams can occur at the office of your ophthalmologist, optometrist, or primary healthcare provider. When the diabetic retinal exam is performed in primary care, a photograph of the retina is captured in your physician’s office and sent to an ophthalmologist for review. The exam is quick and comfortable. Results from the ophthalmologist are returned to your physician in about one business day.



Why is my physician recommending a retinal exam for me?

Patient and Physician

It is recommended that all patients living with diabetes have a retinal exam at least once per year. Your physician is committed to providing quality preventative care and has made this potentially vision-saving technology available to help keep watch for signs of diabetic retinopathy in the early stages—when treatments to preserve vision are most effective.



What if I have diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy Fundus

If diabetic retinopathy is identified, your physician will discuss next steps with you, including potential referral to an eye specialist, as needed.



Do I need to have my eyes dilated for this exam?

Dialated pupil

In most cases, dilation is not required. However, a small percentage of patients (up to 15%) may require use of a mild dilating drop to temporarily increase pupil size. There are different concentrations of dilation drops, with the mildest concentration often being enough for this exam. The effect of mild dilation drops wears off relatively quickly. Once the drops are administered, you will remain in a darkened room for about ten minutes before the exam.


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