My insulin therapy is working, and my blood sugar is well-controlled. Isn't this enough to prevent diabetic macular edema? Do I really need an eye exam every year?

Keep up your blood sugar control! But don't skip your doctor's recommended routine eye exams. Your eyes can feel and see great, but still have diabetes-related eye disease.

Keeping your blood sugar levels under control certainly reduces the likelihood of vision loss from diabetes-related macular edema and retinopathy. But good blood sugar control doesn't eliminate your risk of developing problems with your eyes and vision.

Studies show that of those who have diabetes without tight blood sugar control, up to 80 percent or more may have some damage to the retina (retinopathy) by 20 years after a diabetes diagnosis. But even in those who may have better blood sugar control, approximately 20 to 60 percent develop retinopathy by 20 years after a diabetes diagnosis. Uncontrolled retinopathy leads to vision loss.

Many people only develop mild forms of retinopathy that don't affect vision. Others progress to early and then more-severe disease stages. Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema often have no symptoms in their early stages. So it's important to monitor eye health and not take any chances of missing early retinopathy or edema.

Regular eye exams increase the chances that your doctor will detect diabetes-related eye conditions as soon as possible and treat them when necessary. Early intervention can prevent vision loss for many people.


Alaina L. Softing Hataye, O.D.

March 02, 2018 See more Expert Answers