Your care team is anyone who helps you manage your diabetes, including any complications you may have.
If you have diabetes, your care team is likely to extend beyond your family doctor. You have to work with one or more of the following healthcare providers:
- diabetes doctor (endocrinologist)
- diabetes educator
- eye doctors (retina specialist, ophthalmologist, optometrist)
- foot doctor (podiatrist)
- heart doctor (cardiologist)
- mental health counselor
- nurse practitioner
- social worker
You may also get help in managing your diabetes from friends and family.
Your primary care doctor and nurses will work most closely with you on managing your health.
Your primary care provider (PCP), also known as your general practitioner or family doctor, is usually the primary team member when it comes to diabetes. Your PCP will help you manage your diabetes, order and review routine bloodwork, and may prescribe you with medications used to keep your blood glucose levels stable and in control. Your PCP will also send you to talk to other healthcare professionals, such as ophthalmologists, optometrists, diabetes educators, dieticians, and others.
Your health care team can help you manage the ABC's of Diabetes.
In addition to your primary doctor, you may have a diabetes doctor (also known as an endocrinologist or diabetologist) who works with you specifically on your diabetes and managing any complications you might have. You also may work with a diabetes educator and a dietician to manage the ABC’s of diabetes:
A for the A1c test (Also known as HbA1c).
The A1C Test is a blood glucose that tests your levels over the past three months. The A1C goal for many people is below 7.
B for Blood pressure.
Many people have a blood pressure goal of below 140/90. Yours may be different, so ask your doctor.
C for Cholesterol.
Your care team will also monitor your cholesterol: ask what your goal numbers should be.
You can work with your PCP or endocrinologist, as well as your nurses, educators, and dieticians to create a “game plan” to manage your diabetes, including setting goals for your ABCs. But don’t forget about screening your eyes! Your endocrinologist may be the one to refer you to an eye care specialist for a dilated eye exam.
You should visit your vision specialist every year for a dilated eye exam.
Either your primary care doctor or your endocrinologist will refer you to a vision specialist for an annual screening. Be sure to get a DILATED eye exam. A regular vision check won’t do. If you don’t already have an ophthalmologist or optometrist, you can find one online. If you need to find an ophthalmologist, click here. If you need to find an optometrist, click here.
If your optometrist or ophthalmologist notices any problems in your eye, he or she will communicate these findings with your diabetes team. In some cases this may be your very first sign of having diabetes.
If the Diabetic Retinopathy worsens or Macular Edema Develops to a point of requiring advanced surgical care you may go to a special type of ophthalmologist, known as a retina specialist. These doctors will recommend appropriate management and can administer treatment for these conditions, which can save you from going blind.
If you need to find a retina specialist, click here. If you need to find an ophthalmologist, click here. If you need to find an optometrist, click here.
But don’t forget, the most important member of the team is you!
Everyone has a role to play, but the only person who directly interacts with ALL members of the healthcare team is YOU. That’s why YOU must be the team captain and take a leadership role in your own healthcare. To protect your vision, you must take the lead in connecting with your eye doctor, getting screened, and if needed, getting treatment.