What Is a Diabetic Eye Exam?

Published on
April 28, 2022

Diabetes patients are at risk for diabetic damage to their eyes; therefore, they should have a special eye exam so that all aspects of their eyes and vision can be monitored and high definition photos of the retina can be taken. Everyone with diabetes should have at least one in-depth eye exam per year, since diabetes can cause serious damage to the eyes.

What does a diabetic eye exam consist of?

A diabetic eye exam always involves your vision and prescription being checked by an eye doctor. Then, in the health part of the exam, which is the most important if you have diabetes, the eye doctor will check your eyes for cataracts because if your diabetes is not under control, you may have advanced cataracts. Younger people tend to develop cataracts earlier if they are diabetic, so they should be checked for that. Afterward, they dilate the eyes so that they can see more clearly inside. Looking specifically at the retina, the retina has a vasculature that supplies oxygen to the retina both in front and behind the retina. By looking in the eye, they can view the vasculature and determine whether diabetes has caused any stress.

Additionally, they are looking for leaks in the vessels. They are looking for areas of edema and areas that may be starving of oxygen since when you have too much sugar in your blood, it is easy for parts of your retina, and that happens all over your body, to become oxygen-starved. It's at that point that they start to see changes in the retina, which is why a diabetic retinal eye exam is so important.

Does an eye doctor detect changes in diabetic patients manually or through photos?

An eye doctor performing a diabetic eye exam without photos would see everything they need to see and document accordingly. But when they have the photos available, they can document those changes in the best way possible. Let's say a patient visits an eye doctor and is diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, so the eye doctor notes would describe a certain level of diabetic retinopathy, and these photos will demonstrate this. It's a little more information they can share with the primary care physician. Furthermore, they are able to compare the photos when the patient visits again to see if anything has changed.

Is it true that an eye doctor detects changes in a diabetic patient before an endocrinologist does?

When an eye doctor examines your eyes, they actually look at the vasculature, and that is the area that is affected. This is a vascular condition. If the sugars are too high or fluctuate too much, they can detect changes in that sooner than most other doctors can because they are looking directly at the vessels. They can look into a patient’s eyes without having to inject dye or cut them open. It is right in front of them. So again, those photos are important because they let them know the status of the vascular health in your eyes and that’s going throughout your entire body.

Does an eye doctor send medical records to your primary care doctor?

The answer depends. There are doctors who, if you don't have diabetic retinopathy, just want to make sure you're getting your eyes checked. In cases of diabetic retinopathy, based on the severity, an eye doctor will share the information with your primary care physician as well.

Schedule a diabetic eye exam in Bellflower

At Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach we take pride in offering the most advanced medical eye care available. Our office has advanced technology to take ultra high definition imagery of the inner eye and detect minute changes that may indicate that your diabetes is causing cellular stress. Our eye doctors, Dr. Ikeda FCOVD, DPNAP and Dr. Sarah Wolff, have extensive experience and specialization in advanced medical eye care. We invite you to schedule your diabetic eye exam in our office by calling us at (562) 925-6591


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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