Diabetic Eye Disease: Eye Care

Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults. Find out how to protect your vision.

Diabetes is a disease that can cause very serious health problems, but there are several guidelines that you can follow to protect your vision and delay the onset of diabetic eye disease.

Stay on TRACK With Your Eye Health

NEI InfographicResearch from the National Eye Institute (NEI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shown that if you have diabetes and maintain good control of your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, you can slow the development and progression of diabetic eye disease. In addition to having annual comprehensive dilated eye exams, be sure to do the following to keep your health on TRACK:

  • Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, losing 5% to 7% of your total body weight is highly recommended by health professionals, such as those with the National Diabetes Education Program.
  • Add physical activity to your daily routine, whether it’s walking, hitting the gym, dancing, or even cleaning the house. Anything counts!
  • Control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Know your healthy numbers and monitor your blood sugar on a daily basis. 
  • Kick the smoking habit or don’t smoke at all.

How to Find an Eye Care Professional
If you are looking for an eye care professional, whether it’s an ophthalmologist or an optometrist, here are ways to find one that best suits your needs.

You can:

  • Ask family members and friends about eye care professionals they use.
  • Ask your family doctor for the name of a local eye care specialist.
  • Contact your insurance company or health plan to learn whether it has a list of eye care professionals who are covered under your plan.
  • Stop by an eye care store and inquire about the insurance plans it accepts and whether the store has offers such as free eye exams.
  • Visit your local library and ask a library reference specialist to help you locate books on finding an eye health care professional.

For more information about finding an eye care professional, visit https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/findprofessional.

How to Prepare For Eye Care Visit
To get the most out of your visit with your eye care professional, be sure to ask questions about what your diagnosis means, what your treatment options are, and what steps you need to take to make sure you protect your vision. For additional information about  questions you should ask your eye care professional visit https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/talktodoc.

Financial aid for your eye exam
Financial aid is available for eye care. You can find a list of programs at

Medicare also helps pay for comprehensive dilated eye exams for people with diabetes. Learn more at www.nei.nih.gov/Medicare


Infographic image courtesy of the National Eye Institute.

Updated on: March 20, 2019
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Diabetic Eye Disease: Overview