Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to potentially life-threatening complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation. Diabetes-related complications may be prevented, but only if long-term lifestyle changes are made.

Think you might be at risk for diabetes? This test can help.

The Optima Health Diabetes Disease Management Program

We have programs and trained healthcare professionals ready to help you make healthy lifestyle changes to manage your diabetes. All members with diabetes are welcome to participate.

We reach out to members, but you don’t need to wait – if you want to participate, please call Member Services using the number on your member ID card and ask to be connected to a case manager

The Diabetes Management Team is made up of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and patient service coordinators. This team serves as a member support system and promotes healthy behaviors, provides education, and offers solutions to your questions.


Diabetes Supplies

Strips, lancets, meters, control solutions and insulin pump supplies are covered under most Optima Health policies. Most members have a Copay for diabetes supplies. Just take your prescription to your retail pharmacy.

Dilated Eye Exams

One dilated eye exam is covered per year for persons with diabetes. Copayments may apply. See your plan documents for more information. Members may also call the Optima Health Vision Care Services Center at 1-888-610-2268.

Hospital Education Classes

Education programs hosted by facilities that participate with Optima Health are covered by most Optima Health policies. You do not need an authorization for attending diabetes classes, but some facilities require a doctor’s referral. Call the facility for details about their requirements. If you are not sure about your particular health benefits, or if a hospital is participating, simply call Member Services using the number on your member ID card.

Diabetes Basics

Diabetes is a disease in which the body cannot use food for energy causing high blood sugar levels. Diabetes management is possible and can be controlled.

Your body gets the energy it needs from food. After you eat, food breaks down into sugar and the blood vessels carry the sugar to all the cells in the body. Your body changes most foods into sugar, so you can get high blood sugar even without eating sweets. Insulin acts as a key and unlocks the door of the cell so the sugar can enter. With diabetes, you either do not make enough insulin or do not use the insulin you make. Without insulin, sugar cannot enter the cells and it builds up in the blood causing high blood sugar levels.

Signs and Symptoms

When sugar builds up in the blood, your body starts to give you signals including a need to urinate often, extreme thirst, hunger, sudden weight loss, blurred vision, dry, itchy skin, weakness, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, and slow healing cuts or sores. You may have some, all or none of these symptoms.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes – the body makes no insulin so the sugar can’t enter cells.

If you have Type 1 Diabetes you may need to take daily insulin injections as recommended by your doctor. You also need to eat healthily, get regular exercise and check your blood sugar.

Type 2 Diabetes – the body makes insulin but it is not enough or it does not work right.

Some people with Type 2 Diabetes can control it with a meal plan and exercise. If these don’t work alone, then you need medication. At some point, you may need to take insulin. Just like people with Type 1 Diabetes, you also need to check your blood sugar.

Dilated Eye Exams

Even if you can see fine, a regular dilated eye exam is an important part of vision care. You should have a dilated eye examination once per year.

You have several options to find the nearest in-network provider:

    • Visit Optima Health's "Find a Doctor" application
    • Visit eyemedvisioncare.com
    • Members can contact EyeMed directly at 1-866-939-3633
    • Members can contact Optima Health at 1-888-610-2268

Once you’ve found an eye care provider, you can call them directly to schedule an appointment.

Diabetes Tips and Education

Browse the information below for useful tips on managing diabetes.


Diabetes Care and Management


Exercise, Nutrition and Meal Planning

Heart Health, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and Blood Glucose

Sentara Diabetes Education Classes

Sentara Diabetes Self-Management Training is recognized through the American Association of Diabetes Educators. The program is identified as “Healthy Living with Diabetes”.

This 9-hour program is offered by Certified Diabetes Educators (registered nurses and/or registered dietitians) at Sentara Princess Anne, Sentara CarePlex, Sentara Leigh Hospital, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital and Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. An additional individual 1:1 assessment visit is also available at most sites with the Certified Diabetes Educator.

To enroll:

  • For Sentara Princess Anne, Sentara Leigh Hospital and Sentara Norfolk General Hospital please call 757-388-2030.
  • For Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center please call 757-984-7106.

A physician referral and registration are required.

At Sentara Obici Hospital registration can be done by contacting Central Registration at 757-388-2030 or directly at Sentara Obici Hospital at 757-934-4879.

At Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital registration can be done by contacting Central Registration at 757-388-2030 or directly at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital at 757-395-8836. Follow up for patients is available through a monthly “Aftercare” program unique to the Virginia Beach site.

Courses are taught during both day and evening hours for patient convenience. Individual counseling is available at all facilities.

There is a charge for these programs. Most healthcare plans cover diabetes education. Please call Optima Health Member Services at the number on the back of your member ID card to check your benefits.

Additional outpatient services include Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) provided by Registered Dietitians only. Other services include individual counseling, support groups, insulin pump training, continuous glucose monitoring and more.

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