Eye Care Utilization Among Insured People With Diabetes in the U.S., 2010-2014.Diabetes Care. 2019 03; 42(3):427-433.DC
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults, and although screening with eye exams is effective, screening rates are low. We evaluated eye exam visits over a 5-year period in a large population of insured patients 10-64 years of age with diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We used claims data from IBM Watson Health to identify patients with diabetes and continuous insurance coverage from 2010 to 2014. Diabetes and DR were defined using ICD-9 Clinical Modification codes. We calculated eye exam visit frequency by diabetes type over a 5-year period and estimated period prevalence and cumulative incidence of DR among those receiving an eye exam.
Among the 298,383 insured patients with type 2 diabetes and no diagnosed DR, almost half had no eye exam visits over the 5-year period and only 15.3% met the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations for annual or biennial eye exams. For the 2,949 patients with type 1 diabetes, one-third had no eye exam visits and 26.3% met ADA recommendations. The 5-year period prevalence and cumulative incidence of DR were 24.4% and 15.8%, respectively, for patients with type 2 diabetes and 54.0% and 33.4% for patients with type 1 diabetes.
The frequency of eye exams was alarmingly low, adding to the abundant literature that systemic changes in health care may be needed to detect and prevent vision-threatening eye disease among people with diabetes.