Objectives: To estimate compliance with guidelines on ocular examinations for diabetic persons, to examine factors that affect compliance, and to determine reasons for noncompliance.
Design: Cross-sectional population study.
Setting: Primary care setting.
Patients: The population is 765 diabetic persons with younger onset and 533 with older onset who participated in the 1990 to 1992 follow-up examination of the Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy.
Measurements: A medical history was taken in which subjects were asked about eye examinations by ophthalmologists and optometrists.
Results: Sixty-four percent of the younger-onset group and 62% of the older-onset group had had a dilated eye examination in the previous year. Persons in both groups were more likely to have had a dilated examination if they had a longer duration of diabetes, more severe retinopathy, a history of glaucoma or cataract, and health insurance that covered eye examinations. Persons with younger-onset diabetes were more likely to have had an examination if they were older, were visually impaired, and had more education or higher income. Persons in the older-onset group were more likely to have had an examination if they were female or taking insulin. In those not having an eye examination, 79% and 71% of the younger- and older-onset groups, respectively, reported not having had one because they had no problems with their eyes, and 31% and 35% reported not having been told they needed one. Thirty-two percent and 11% said they were too busy, and 30% and 12% said they could not afford an examination.
Conclusions: Diabetic persons should be educated as to the need for eye care; the results show that barriers to eye care exist in the form of affordability and lack of time.