Can an Eye Exam Detect Diabetes?

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Comprehensive eye exams are important for many reasons. Along with eye-related concerns, eye doctors may be able to detect other health issues during a comprehensive eye exam.

Can you detect diabetes through an eye exam?

“The answer is yes, yes you can,” said VSP network eye doctor Meghan Riegel, OD.

According to Dr. Riegel, diabetes affects the blood vessels, and the back of the eye is the only place in the body where an eye doctor can directly view the blood vessels.

“If there’s a problem happening, your eye doctor is sometimes the first to detect that change,” Dr. Riegel explained. “This is why it’s so important you make sure to get your annual eye exam.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows 30.3 million people have diabetes in the U.S., however, 7.2 million people go on undiagnosed.

It’s especially crucial for people with diabetes to get their eyes examined regularly, as they can develop diabetic retinopathy, a condition where the blood vessels in your retina become damaged.

Often the early stages of diabetic retinopathy have no noticeable symptoms, so Dr. Riegel recommends that everyone with diabetes have a comprehensive eye exam once a year. According to the CDC, about 90 percent of diabetes-related vision loss can be prevented, but early detection is key.’

Haven’t had your eye exam yet this year? Find your VSP network eye doctor at Choose one who participates in the Premier Program to get the most out of your benefits. If you’re already a VSP member, you can access savings and resources for diabetes-related services.


  • I really liked the post!It’s astounding how far technic has come so far. It helps to save so many people from diseases. Loved it!

  • Gwen Rickerby says:

    Twenty five years ago my eyes started to get a bit blurry so I went to my eye dr and he strongly urged me to get to my dr immediately. He thought I probably had diabetes. I went that same afternoon to my doctor. He tested me and found I had type 1 diabetes and needed to be in insulin immediately as my glucose at that time was over 600! My a1c came back at 8 or 9, I do rly remember for sure. I have been on an insulin pump for many years, I have no eye, or other organ damage. I am now 73 years old and quite healthy, and I thank my eye doctor for that.

  • Rick Myers says:

    I know my eye doctor asked me if I had high cholesterol during my exam. He wants to continue to check my eyes every year for blood vessel health. I didn’t know that meant he could see if I had diabetes. I told him I was borderline during when he was updating my medical record.

  • Geri Glaser says:

    The staff at my eye doctors office always ask the patients, both on the phone or at their visit, if they have diabetes. I always wondered why since, it would show up in the exam anyway.

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