Get With the Diabetes Guidelines

A1C testing and eye exam rates are low among young diabetes patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Diabetes can be a hard disease to manage and keep under control, but regular testing can help patients in this difficult task. In fact, testing can save patients' eyesight or even their life.

Not enough young people with diabetes are getting eye examinations and A1C tests, which measure blood sugar control over the course of several months.

"Get regular eye exams and blood sugar tests if you have diabetes."

People with diabetes need to keep track of their eye health, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney health, and blood pressure. If any of these factors gets out of control, a diabetes patient can face some serious complications related to their disease.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetes patients get their A1C checked at least twice per year in order to see how well they are controlling their blood sugar.

Beth Waitzfelder, Ph.D., and colleagues found that as much as 32 percent of young diabetes patients are not getting A1C testing as recommended by the American Diabetes Association. They also found that as much as 34 percent of patients are not getting their eyes examined.

The good news is that many young diabetes patients are still getting their blood pressure, cholesterol, and kidney function checked.

According to the study's authors, even though young diabetes patients are getting most of the recommended tests, the health care world needs to put more effort into increasing the rates of A1C testing and eye exams among young people with diabetes.

The researchers came to these results by surveying 1,514 participants in a study called SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth. In the survey, participants answered questions about the care they received for diabetes. The quality-of-care measures were based on American Diabetes Association guidelines, including those for eye exams, A1C testing, lipid levels (cholesterol measures), microalbuminuria (measure of kidney function), and blood pressure measurements.

While they saw low rates of A1C testing and eye exams, they also found that 95 percent of participants had their blood pressure checked at all or most of their doctor visits, 88 percent had their lipid levels measured, and 83 percent had their kidney function tested.

The full study is published in the journal Pediatrics

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Review Date: 
August 25, 2011
Last Updated:
August 28, 2011