Diabetic retinopathy is a complication that if undetected can cause vision loss and blindness. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adult’s ages 25 to 65 years and results in 24,000 new cases of blindness each year (Beaser, 2003). From 1980 through 2010, the number of adults in the United States ages 18–79 with newly diagnosed diabetes more than tripled from 493,000 in 1980 to over 1.7 million in 2010 (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2012)

The number of new cases of diabetes has continued to increase since the early 1990s (CDC, 2012). Considering the percentage of diabetes has increased in all age groups from 1980 to 2010, the associated complications of diabetic retinopathy are a growing problem. As the number of people living with diabetes increases, so does the potential for the number of people with impaired vision increase (Beaser, 2003).

The American Diabetes Association's current guidelines for retinal screening include:

Type 1 diabetes: 3-5 years after diagnosis and at least annually thereafter
Type 2 diabetes: at time of diagnosis and at least annually thereafter
Before conception and early in the first trimester of pregnancy
Less than severe non-proliferative diabetes retinopathy: 3 -12 months
Severe eye disorders: every 1 - 3 months