Schedule for Diabetes Lab Tests and Exams

In addition to your daily self-care, it's important to stay up to date with lab tests and physical exams. Keeping regular appointments with your doctor and getting tests on time will:

  • Give you and your doctor important information about how well your diabetes care plan is working.
  • Give you a chance to ask questions and share ideas or concerns you have about your care plan.
  • Help your doctor find and treat any problems before they get worse.

The following schedules give a general idea of how often to get exams and lab tests. Depending on your care plan, your schedule might be different. Talk to your doctor about the schedule that's right for you.

Physical Exams How Often?
Retinal eye exam
Eye exam to look for signs of retinopathy (nerve damage to the eye). This exam is done by taking a picture of your eye with a special camera, without having to dilate the eye.
Every 2 years if you have type 2 diabetes and don't have signs of retinopathy or have had type 1 diabetes more than 5 years.

Every year if you have retinopathy.
Foot exam
Checks for foot problems so they can be treated early. Includes calluses, bunions, sores, and little or no feeling in your feet. Treating these problems early can keep them from leading to anything more serious.
Every year if you have type 2 diabetes or have had type 1 diabetes more than 5 years.

More often if you have any foot problems.
Weight and blood pressure At every clinic visit.

Lab Tests How Often?
A1c (Glycosylated hemoglobin)
Blood test to measure the amount of glucose attached to your red blood cells. It shows what your average blood sugar level has been for the past 2 to 3 months.
As often as every 3 months.
Urine check for microalbumin
Urine test to look for small proteins (microalbumin), which can show early signs of kidney damage.
If you are between the ages of 12 and 75, your first test is at 6 months following diagnosis, then once a year.
Lipid profile (fasting blood test)
Blood test to measure your levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol (HDL "good" cholesterol and LDL "bad" cholesterol).
Every year or more often if needed.

Other Routine Care

Make sure you're up to date on your Adult Wellness Visits, Screenings, and Immunizations. Ask your doctor if your schedule is different than our recommendations for the general population. For children and adolescents, see Well-Child Visits and Immunizations.

We also recommend an annual flu vaccine for everyone with diabetes. In addition, talk to your doctor about getting the pneumococcal vaccine to protect you from pneumonia.

Clinical review by David McCulloch, MD
Kaiser Permanente
Reviewed 03/01/2014