American Diabetes Association Releases New Consumer Research on Eye Health

May 7, 2013

The American Diabetes Association released new research today, conducted by Harris Interactive®, which examines the level of awareness and understanding of eye health for people who are living with diabetes. The research found that while 96 percent of those surveyed were aware that diabetes could lead to blindness, 20 percent of those have not had an eye exam in the past 12 months—demonstrating that awareness does not always drive action when it comes to eye health.

“Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults,” said John E. Anderson, MD, President, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association. “For the nearly 20 million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S., it is critical that they receive an annual eye exam to avoid complications and lower their risk of glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems such as diabetic macular edema. May is Healthy Vision Month and this research demonstrates the need for us to continue to educate people with diabetes about the importance of eye health, and receiving an annual eye exam.”

The Diabetes Eye Health Study, which was funded by a grant from Genentech, surveyed adults in the U.S. who are currently diagnosed with diabetes, and explored issues around awareness and level of concern about blindness caused by diabetes. For these people diagnosed with diabetes, the importance of annual eye exams, whether they had a recent exam including dilation and where they learned about recommendations for eye exams were also surveyed.

Additional key findings include:

  • Those diagnosed are concerned about blindness associated with their diabetes. 74 percent report that they are at least somewhat personally concerned about the association between diabetes and blindness.
  • 83 percent believe that it is extremely or very important to have an annual eye exam.
  • While 96 percent of those diagnosed are aware that diabetes can lead to blindness and 98 percent of those diagnosed believe that it is at least somewhat important to have an annual eye exam, 87 percent are aware that it is recommended to have an annual dilated eye exam. This suggests that people diagnosed with diabetes are not always aware of recommended care to prevent eye complications associated with their diabetes.
  • Awareness of the need for an annual dilated eye exam comes primarily from health care professionals—Doctor/Physician (82 percent) and Optometrist (46 percent).
  • Nearly all (97 percent) of those diagnosed with diabetes who have ever had an eye exam have done so since their diagnosis. However, out of this group, 13 percent report not having their eyes dilated at their last exam, even when aware that it is recommended.
  • There is a near even split in familiarity regarding the condition diabetic macular edema. 52 percent of those diagnosed are not at all familiar with this condition, even among those who have had an eye exam and dilation at their most recent exam since diagnosis.

To learn more, visit

Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Diabetes Association from April 10 to 12, 2013, among 2,036 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 267 had been diagnosed with diabetes (type 1, type 2, or unknown type). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)