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Are Diabetic Eye Exams Covered in Alberta?


Diabetic Eye Health Exams Are Covered in Alberta

Diabetes eye health exams are covered by Alberta Health Care. When you book your appointment, be certain to state that you have diabetes and would like to book a diabetes eye health exam.

How is a diabetes eye health exam different from a comprehensive eye exam?

A diabetes eye health exam assesses the areas of the eye that can be affected by diabetes, including the retina. An eye health exam does not include the issuance of prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses. To obtain a prescription one must have a comprehensive eye exam. Comprehensive eye exams are covered by Alberta Health Care for individuals under 19 years of age and those 65 years and older.

What Occurs During a Diabetes Eye Health Exam?

A diabetes eye health exam is done by an optometrist (a doctor trained in diagnosing and treating eye diseases) or an ophthalmologist (a doctor trained in surgery and other advanced treatment of eye diseases). You don’t need a referral from your family doctor to see an optometrist, but you need one to see an ophthalmologist. During a diabetes eye health exam, your eyes may be dilated. This is done with eye drops that make your pupils (the black, centre part of the eye) larger. Having your eyes dilated lets your optometrist or ophthalmologist have a clear view of the retina at the back of your eye. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will let you know if your eyes will be dilated during the appointment. If your eyes are dilated, you may be sensitive to light and have blurry vision for several hours. You won’t be able to drive for a few hours after your eyes are dilated. You will need someone to drive you home after the exam.

How Often Is A Diabetes Eye Health Exam Needed?

Diabetics should have a diabetes eye health exam once a year or as often as your optometrist or ophthalmologist says you need one. But if you experience changes to your vision, make an appointment to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist right away. Please note, diabetics may not immediately notice changes to their eyes or eyesight as diabetic retinopathy develops and/or advances. Accordingly, regular comprehensive eye exams and diabetes eye health exams are essential for the early detection, treatment, and management of diabetic retinopathy.

Manage Your Diabetes With An Eye Exam Every 6 Months

To best manage your diabetes it is recommended to schedule an exam every size months.

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Diabetic Retinopathy can develop at any age, but it is more common in individuals who have had diabetes for a long time or who have poorly controlled blood sugar levels.

Yes, if left untreated, Diabetic Retinopathy can lead to severe vision loss and even blindness.