Diabetes Management

Many who live with diabetes ignore basic health recommendations! It is important to follow basic steps to regulate your body’s health.

Tens of thousands of upstate New York adults who have diabetes jeopardize their health status by failing to take basic steps to keep their chronic illness in check. Health experts recommend routine actions that people living with diabetes should take to protect their health.

An estimated 387,000 adults in upstate New York live with diabetes, a serious health condition where the body does not produce or properly use insulin to digest sugar (glucose). Over time high blood sugar levels can damage many parts of the body, including blood vessels.

Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness, kidney disease, and non-traumatic lower extremity amputation. It is also a major contributor to the nation’s leading killer, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke).

Care recommendations for people with diabetes include: 

    • Have an A1C blood test at least twice per year
    • Have a complete eye exam, including eye dilation, each year
    • Have a health provider examine feet for sores or irritations at least annually
    • Visit a dentist or dental clinic at least yearly
    • Stay physically active as approved by your doctor
    • Visit a health professional at least yearly for diabetes
    • Get a flu vaccine every year


Rates of diabetic eye exams for Excellus BCBS members are higher than state and national averages. However, the rates are below target goals set for Commercial, Medicare and Medicaid populations. Excellus BCBS is working with local providers in the community to remove barriers to screening for diabetic patients.

For example, earlier this year, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provided a three-year, $150,000 Member and Community Health Improvement (MACHI) grant to the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) for its Telemedicine-Based Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program. This new regional initiative will use state-of-the-art technology to screen at-risk patients for diabetic retinopathy – a condition in which high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision disorders and blindness.

With portable retina cameras embedded in primary care offices throughout Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties, medical staff will be able to capture a detailed image of a patient’s retina, and securely send it to a participating ophthalmologist or optometrist for assessment. Within hours, a diagnostic report is returned to the primary care provider, who follows up with the patient to discuss results and develop an individualized care plan.

The MACHI grant program provides funding to local, nonprofit organizations that share Excellus’ vision for healthier communities. The initiatives supported span multiple years and include specific objectives and measurable outcomes for improving community health. The grant dollars are disbursed over several years to ensure they significantly, and positively affect public health.

Physicians can help patients manage diabetes, but patients must be active partners who take charge of their own health in order to maintain, or improve overall health status.

For more about diabetes, check out this story about a man who rides in the Tour De Cure because his brother battles the disease: A Big Brother Aims to Make the Rochester Tour De Cure the #1 Ride in the U.S. , and this Health of America Report: Diabetes and the Commercially Insured U.S. Population (Aug 1, 2017).

Take Charge of Diabetes

Diabetic Eye Exams