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What is a diabetic retinal eye exam?

A diabetic eye exam is part of a comprehensive eye exam performed by an eye care professional to check for signs of diabetic retinopathy. This condition can affect people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and can cause serious complications, including vision loss or blindness.1 Thankfully, a diabetic retinal eye exam is a generally simple, painless procedure that can help you prevent diabetic retinopathy or detect signs early.2

woman looking into a retinal camera during an eye exam

What to expect during a diabetic retinal eye exam

Before the exam, an eye care professional will dilate your pupils with eye drops. Once your pupils widen about 20 minutes later, the eye care professional will check your visual acuity (sharpness), depth perception and eye movement. They will also examine the back of the eye for signs of diabetic retinopathy. Since diabetes can increase your risk for glaucoma, some exams may include glaucoma testing.3

The retinal exam itself generally takes about 10 minutes. If you schedule the exam in-office with an eye care professional, you may get results immediately.4

Coverage and costs for a diabetic retinal eye exam

Humana Medicare Advantage medical plans cover eye exams for diabetic retinopathy once each year if you have diabetes. You don’t need a vision plan to receive coverage since the exam is considered preventive medical care. However, the exam must be done by an eye care professional who’s legally allowed to do the test in your state. Check the Evidence of Coverage for your plan for more details.

Fresh cut limes.

How can I schedule a diabetic eye exam near me?

If you have diabetes, it’s important to keep up to date with all your preventive screenings to help catch any issues as soon as you may be able to. Find an eye care professional near you to schedule your diabetic retinal eye exam.


  1. “Diabetic Retinopathy,” National Eye Institute, last accessed November 3, 2021,
  2. “Diabetic Eye Exam,” Vision Center, last accessed November 3, 2021,
  3. Adam Debrowski, reviewed by Gary Heiting, OD, “Diabetic eye exam: What to expect?” All About Vision, last accessed September 9, 2021,
  4. “What to expect with a retinal exam,” Associated Retina Consultants, last accessed September 10, 2021,