What is routine? In this case, routine should be the usual and regular times that you see your eye doctor when there are no perceived problems. For instance, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Optometric Association recommend that all patients with diabetes be examined no less than once a year.
How often you actually go for an eye exam is determined by your own personal eye doctor.
All Patients with Diabetes need to have an eye exam at least once a year. The exam should include dilating the pupils to allow the best possible examination by your eye doctor. You may seek the advice of a retina specialist, or, you may choose to consult with your eye doctor about seeing a specialist.
In my practice, patients with stable diabetic retinopathy (no active macular edema or signs of proliferative disease) may be seen as often as quarterly. If there are active problems, more often may be appropriate. If there are patients with early diabetic retinopathy, no history of laser treatment or loss of vision, sometimes an annual visit suffices.
Remember, early detection of diabetic retinopathy is essential. Patients with diabetes can NOT monitor their own vision, as there is no association between active diabetic retinopathy and quality of vision.
Patients with Macular Degeneration are somewhat easier to “follow.” In contrast to patients with diabetes, patients with macular degeneration can self monitor using the Amsler Grid. If a patient notices sustained decreased vision, or, sustained distortion, then a prompt exam may be warranted.
Most patients that have macular degeneration should have some symptoms of either decreased vision and/or distortion. Not all patients are aware of decreased vision, especially when it involves only one eye. Yes, read on. Many, many patients are unaware when there are vision changes only in one eye.
There is no golden rule for regular examination for patient with macular degeneration. I personally do not see all my patients with macular degeneration on a regular basis, but I usually give patients the option of returning regularly.
Certainly, any time you are concerned about any vision changes, you should call your eye doctor. My existing patients are also getting used to the idea of using email, or texting, to notify me.
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist