What Does A Diabetic Eye Exam Actually Involve?

6 April 2021
 Categories: , Blog


If you have diabetes, one of the ways you'll need to take care of yourself is by having regular diabetic eye exams. These exams are intended to make sure you do not develop diabetic retinopathy or any other eye conditions, which you are at an increased risk of developing due to diabetes. Of course, diabetic eye exams also help ensure that if you do develop one of these conditions, it is diagnosed sooner, rather than later. But that still leaves you wondering — what does a diabetic eye exam involve? Take a look.

Slit Lamp Test

This is usually the first part of the diabetic eye exam. Your eye doctor will put eye drops in your eyes that dilate your pupils. You may feel like your eyes are a bit sensitive to light once your pupils are dilated, but you should not feel any pain. As you sit with your chin resting on a platform, your eye doctor will then shine a light into your eyes and look at them through a microscope. With your pupils dilated, your eye doctor should be able to see the back of your eye, where the retina is located. They can then examine your retina for any signs of swelling, deterioration, or other damage that could be related to diabetic retinopathy.

Fluorescein Angiography

If you have had diabetes for a few years, or if your blood sugar was uncontrolled for a while, then your eye doctor may want to perform this test. Basically, they will introduce a bright, glowing, yellow-green dye to your eyes. This may tingle a little, but it won't hurt. This dye bonds to your retinal tissue and nerves, but not to other tissues. Your eye doctor can then take a photo of the back of your eye and examine the photo to see the structure of your retina and ocular nerve.

Air Puff Test

The two tests above are primarily intended to check for diabetic retinopathy, but this one tests for glaucoma. Although patients without diabetes can develop glaucoma, it is more common in diabetics. All this test involves is a little puff of air being shot at your eye. A device will measure how well your eye resists the pressure from the air puff, which indicates your intraocular pressure. Too high of a pressure indicates that you may have glaucoma. 

As a diabetic, you need to be more careful about eye problems. Having regular diabetic eye exams is wise and recommended.