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Education Targeting Eye Care Needed for Diabetes Patients

Many patients with diabetes do not obtain annual eye care…. 

Based on information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2006 to 2010, patients who were at least 40 years of age with diabetes, and had not had any eye care in the previous 12 months, were analyzed and grouped into four categories according to responses given as to why no eye care was sought. Of those analyzed, 39.7% of patients said there was no need, 32.3% reported it was due to cost or lack of insurance; 6.4% reported having no eye doctor, travel ability or appointment, and 21.5% were listed as "other."

Many health insurance plans, including Medicare, pay for annual eye exams; therefore, cost should not be considered as a barrier to care. Additionally, for the reasons given by those included in the study, it is important to increase patient awareness and education with regards to preventative eye care among diabetic patients.

Many times, adult patients do not have annual eye exams due to perceived financial barriers and lack of understanding. Efforts to educate patients on the importance of annual eye exams should be made to all those with diabetes. In addition, informed public messages should be made as an outreach to encourage those with diabetes to seek annual eye exams.

Practice Pearls:

  • Education efforts should be increased to encourage utilization of eye care
  • Public messages need to be targeted and increased among diabetic patients
  • Medicare and health insurance covers annual eye exams, but individuals do not take advantage

Diabetes Care, September 2013