Diabetic eye disease and diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness. It occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels nourishing the retina or the light sensitive tissue inside the eye.

With 1 in 2 Australian adults currently overweight, diabetes and diabetic eye disease is an alarming concern.

Complications of diabetic eye disease other than diabetic retinopathy include cataract and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy causes changes in the blood vessels of the retina. The changes in the blood vessels may lead to swelling and leakage of fluid with abnormal or new blood vessels growing over the surface of the retina causing a vision loss.

All people with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, are at risk of diabetic eye disease. If undetected or left untreated, diabetic eye disease can lead to severe vision loss or even blindness. Symptoms of diabetic eye disease include blurred vision, difficulty reading, floaters, and distorted vision. Early detection of diabetic eye disease and retinopathy is essential for the preservation of vision.

Cataract can develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes. Glaucoma is nearly twice as likely to develop in a patient with diabetes than a patient without.

The most appropriate form of prevention is early diagnosis. At Max Astri Optometrists, we utilise the latest technology to screen, detect and manage patients with diabetic eye disease. These technologies include high resolution OCT scans, digital retinal imaging and ultrawide digital wide imaging to assess the central and peripheral retina.

All people with diabetes should have a thorough eye examination at least once a year. More frequent eye examinations are needed if signs of diabetic eye disease are already present. If undetected or left untreated, diabetic eye disease can lead to severe vision loss or even blindness.

With early detection, diabetic eye disease can be identified and managed to avoid vision loss during the early stages of diabetic eye disease. No treatment is needed, but more frequent eye examinations are recommended.

To prevent progression of diabetic eye disease and vision loss, good control of blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol are essential. Regular exercise and a sensible diet are also required. Your GP will advise you accordingly and may enlist an endocrinologist to help with these issues.

With more advanced diabetic eye disease such as severe retinopathy or macular oedema, treatment with laser or injections into the eye is indicated. In very severe cases, surgery may even be indicated.