Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, and most of these sight-stealing cases can be attributed to neglecting their disease. Unfortunately, new research has shown that the next generation of diabetic patients aren’t likely to fare much better.

A new study in the journal of Pediatrics reports that young Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics are not getting routine tests, such as eye exams, needed to properly manage their disease – setting them up for many future complications.

The most staggering statistic is that one third of those surveyed had not undergone routine eye exams nor had tests of long-term blood sugar control – both recommended by the American Diabetic Association (ADA).

Unlike a simple blood sugar test, a hemoglobin A1C test gives a snapshot of a patient’s blood sugar over the previous three months, a much better indicator of long term control. The ADA recommends this test every six months.

Diabetes EyesiteThe ADA also says patients should have a routine eye exam from their optometrist or ophthalmologist at least once a year – but 34% of diabetic respondents had not had this crucial exam. The eye is unique in that it is the only place in the body where a doctor can see your blood vessels without cutting you open.

Diabetes is ultimately a disease of the blood vessels where blood cannot nourish your body and instead leaks out where the arteries meet the veins. This lack of nourishment can harm limbs, shut down organs and cause blindness.

The ADA guidelines are the most widely accepted method to control diabetes and prevent damage caused by this disease. Diabetes, for the most part, cannot be cured, only managed. The first steps are though routine medical exams, physical activity and a healthy diet.