It is estimated that 2 million Australians will be affected by diabetes within the next 5-10 years. This disease affects many organs and is associated with heart disease, kidney failure, limb amputations and diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic retinopathy is the eye disease associated with poorly controlled diabetes. It affects almost everyone with Type 1 diabetes and 60% of those with Type 2 diabetes within 20 years of diagnosis.

Early diabetic eye disease usually has no symptoms and involves small haemorrhages and fluid leaks at the back of the eye. Later stage eye disease involves the growth of new and ABNORMAL blood vessels in the retina and other parts of the eye and can quickly lead to potentially blinding complications. Swelling and fluid around the macula is one of the main causes of vision loss.

How we test your eyes for diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic eye disease is rarely the first sign of diabetes. Usually, you will have been diagnosed with diabetes by your GP or endocrinologist years before the disease affects the retina. Anyone with diabetes should have a retinal examination with their optometrist every 6 to 12 months, depending on their particular disease and how well it is controlled.

All patients of the The Eye Practice have the following tests:

Retinal imaging

The retina can be viewed using a powerful magnifying lens. At The Eye Practice we routinely photograph your retina and keep these images with your records for future comparison.  Even the early signs of diabetic eye disease will be clearly visible with a retinal photo. These include small haemorrhages and cotton wool spots – or deposits of cells from your blood vessels.

OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography)

Many of the retinal changes that occur in diabetic eye disease occur under the surface where we can’t see them. But OCT can. This test allows us to take an image of even the deeper layers of the retina to see what is going on under the surface. Using OCT allows us to pick up the clinical signs of diabetic eye disease before the visible signs appear.  For more on how OCT works, see our OCT page.

What if I have diabetic retinopathy?

If you’re diagnosed with diabetic eye disease, you will need to have your eyes carefully monitored – usually every 6 to 12 months. You will also need to consult with your GP and endocrinologist to find out why you have developed this eye disease and how your diabetes can be better controlled. This may involve exercise, dietary changes or medication.

If you have blood leaks at the back of your eye, you will need to see a retinal specialist to see if you need injections in the eye to clear up the blood.  Laser is also used to treat diabetic eye disease.

Our team of optometrists will monitor your progress carefully and keep your GP and endocrinologist in the loop. They will also refer you to a retinal specialist if required.

With early diagnosis of eye disease and the right lifestyle advice and medication, sight-threatening eye disease can often be avoided.

Do you have diabetes? Early diagnosis of diabetic eye disease can protect you from vision loss. Call The Eye Practice on (02) 9290 1899 or make an appointment online today.