3 Diabetes Tests You Must Have
Diabetes Test #2: Dilated Eye Exam
If you have diabetes, your ophthalmologist or optometrist should perform a
dilated eye exam, in which the pupils are widened with drops, to check for
signs of diabetic retinopathy.
With diabetes, high blood sugar damages tiny blood vessels in the retina,
the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. In a more advanced form
called proliferative retinopathy, new blood vessels grow along the retina and
in the clear, gel-like vitreous that fills the inside of the eye. Without
treatment, these new vessels can bleed, blur vision, severely damage the
retina, and lead to vision impairment or blindness.
In this country, diabetic retinopathy is the top cause of blindness in
adults under age 65. Each year, as many as 24,000 people with diabetes lose
their sight, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).
The good news: when doctors detect diabetic retinopathy, they can help
prevent vision loss with timely and highly effective treatments, such as laser
surgery to seal leaking blood vessels.
"Prevention is absolutely the key. If the patient waits until the vision
is gone, it's probably not going to be restored to normal," Cagliero
All people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should have a dilated eye exam at
least once a year as part of a complete eye exam. Early retinopathy may cause
no noticeable symptoms, so regular eye exams are crucial for detecting emerging
"A lot of patients tell me, 'I see fine. Why should I go and see the eye
doctor?'" Cagliero says. "I tell them, 'That's exactly the time to go
see the eye doctor because you can keep your vision great.'"
Diabetes Test #3: Foot Exam
Diabetes can cause nerve damage and numbness, as well as decreased
circulation that makes it harder for your body to fight infection. Patients
with numbness problems may not notice if they injure a foot. A resulting
infection may not heal well, and skin and other tissue may die. In a small
minority of cases, the problem progresses into a complication that requires