Diabetic Eye Exam | October 2022 | Clinical Corner

October 1, 2022


Diabetic Eye Exam – Use Ophthalmologists and Optometrists.

“The Best Preventative Service is the one that gets done.”

  • About 4.1 million US adults 40 years and older have diabetic retinopathy – 1 of every 12 persons with diabetes mellitus in this age group has advanced, vision-threatening retinopathy (2004). (1)
  • About one in three people with diabetes who are older than age 40 already have some signs of diabetic retinopathy (2014). (2)
  • Finding and treating diabetic retinopathy early can reduce the risk of blindness by 95% (2017). (3)

On the McLaren Physician Partners (MPP) Top Ten Quality Metrics dashboard, as visualized on Persivia, the 90th percentile of Diabetes Care: Annual Retinal Eye Exam is 58.3%, as of June 2022. The MPP dashboard score, as of June 2022, is 43.0%. We can do better! To assist our providers in the care of their adult diabetic patient, particularly in screening for diabetic eye changes and early identification of retinopathy and macula edema, MPP recommends an annual dilated eye exam by a licensed professional.

Optometrists examine, diagnose, and treat patients’ eyes.

Ophthalmologists are eye doctors who perform medical and surgical treatments for eye conditions.

Some primary care physicians refer diabetic patients to their ophthalmologists for diabetic eye exams, and some refer diabetic patients to optometrists like Vision Source. MPP’s strategy is to expand access for this most important preventative service - a referral to either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.

The most important reason to evaluate the eyes of diabetics is to catch changes early and prevent blindness. However, an additional reason for completion of this preventative exam is your quality score. Your quality score is a reflection and a perception of you and your practice, as these scores are reviewed and compared by patients and payers. Your quality score also provides a personal assessment of your performance and an opportunity to enhance your care.

“The eyes tell more than words could ever say, but it is great to get a report.” – anonymous primary care physician quote on diabetic eye exam reports. The greatest insight is into the protection of their sight. Use Optometrists and Ophthalmologists for Diabetic Eye Exams and better help your patients and practice.



  1. Archives of Ophthalmology, 2004, The Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy Among Adults in the United States.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014.
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, Diabetic Eye Exam, last reviewed May 2017.