Public Health and Primary CareOriginal Article

Physicians’ Role in Eye Care of Patients With Diabetes Mellitus—Are We Doing What We Need To?

Mark I. Crosby, DO, and Victoria Shuman, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: March 17, 2010

Accepted: July 20, 2010

Published: February 1, 2011

J Osteopath Med; 111(2): 97-101

Context: The American Diabetes Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend that a dilated eye examination be performed on patients with diabetes mellitus during an initial assessment and at least annually there-after.

Objectives: (1) To determine the extent to which patients with diabetes mellitus are aware that their condition can lead to ocular problems; (2) to determine the percentage of patients with diabetes mellitus who receive annual dilated eye examinations; (3) to discover reasons why patients with diabetes mellitus may not receive annual dilated eye examinations; and (4) to raise awareness among patients with diabetes mellitus of the importance of controlling their condition and of receiving frequent dilated eye examinations.

Methods: A 9-question oral survey of individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus was administered in 2 clinical medical settings and 1 community setting in Harrison County, West Virginia, between April 7, 2007, and May 15, 2007. Questions covered participant knowledge of diabetes mellitus complications, frequency of receiving eye examinations, and other aspects of diabetes mellitus. Responses were statistically analyzed for correlations between participant knowledge and receiving eye examinations in the past year.

Results: A total of 147 individuals with diabetes mellitus participated in the survey. Among the various conditions that diabetes mellitus can lead to, the surveyed individuals were most aware that diabetes mellitus can lead to eye disease, followed by kidney problems, ulcers, and heart problems. Approximately 70% of survey respondents received a dilated eye examination in the past year. The most common reasons given by the 30% of respondents who did not receive an eye examination were—in order of frequency—procrastination, having never been told it was necessary, and financial issues.

Conclusions: Roughly 1 of every 4 surveyed patients with diabetes mellitus in this West Virginia study who did not receive an annual dilated eye examination was not aware of the need to do so. As osteopathic physicians, we can do more to optimize compliance with current recommendations for good health by continually educating our patients with diabetes mellitus about the need for eye examinations.

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