If you or someone you love has diabetes, there’s a good chance you need to visit your doctor regularly to ensure you’re staying healthy. But less than half of Americans get the 3 tests they need throughout the year. Further, the majority of people with diabetes don’t understand their risk for vision loss.
Diabetes can damage every blood vessel in your body, including the ones in your eyes, your heart and your kidneys. This is why controlling blood sugar is so important. Read on to learn more about the 3 common tests patients with diabetes should be getting to ensure they are managing their diabetes and staying healthy.
- Hemoglobin A1c: This is a blood test that checks your average blood sugar level for the past three months and involves a sample of blood taken from a finger-stick or from a small vial of it drawn from your arm. Not to be confused with the daily at- home monitoring that allows some people with diabetes to measure their blood sugars in the moment, the A1c test paints a picture of your average blood level for the past 3 months.
- Dilated eye exam: Once a year, you should get an exam with an eye care professional or even in your primary care physician’s office. Your doctor uses eye drops to temporarily dilate your pupils to see inside the eyes. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage the eyes, harming vision and possibly leading to blindness. Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness in the U.S.
- Foot exam: If you have diabetes, your doctor should check your feet at least once a year. He or she will look at your foot’s nerves and circulation, as well as your reflexes. If you have had foot ulcers before, see your doctor every 3 to 6 months. Or, if you notice any new sores, calluses or infections in your feet, call your doctor right away. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to foot problems that may eventually require amputation. Diabetes causes most of the nontraumatic amputations in the U.S.
Sources: WebMD and NIH Medline