Diabetic Retinopathy

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dr1Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease caused by diabetes, including Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It affects the small blood vessels of the retina at the back of the eye.

It often has no symptoms in the early stages. So changes in vision may not be noticed until the condition is serious. Vision may become hazy or blurred. Objects may float across the field of vision. Central vision may become distorted. Straight lines may appear bent or wavy. Fine details may become hard to see during everyday activities.

All people with diabetes are at risk. The risk is reduced when diabetes is controlled.

In early stages of diabetic retinopathy, treatment may not be needed. The aim is to prevent  further progression or vision loss by controlling blood glucose ('sugar'), blood pressure and cholesterol, and regular eye tests. There are treatment options for diabetic retinopathy in its later stages, including laser surgery, but it may not restore vision already lost.

Early detection and treatment can help prevent around 98 per cent of severe vision loss caused by diabetic retinopathy. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, make sure that you:

  • Have an eye test with an eye health professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist):
    • When first diagnosed with diabetes. This eye test should include a check of the retina.
    • Every two years thereafter (once a year for Indigenous Australians) or more often, as directed by an eye health professional.
    • Immediately if you notice a change in vision.
  • Maintain healthy blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Your GP can assist with this.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle.