Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

A man has an eye test to check for diabetic retinopathy

A man has an eye test to check for diabetic retinopathy
beginning of content

Diabetic retinopathy

The retina is a layer of light-sensitive tissue on the inside back of your eye. In people with diabetes , the retina can slowly become damaged and cause vision problems. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy.

If you have diabetes, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by managing your diabetes and having regular eye checks.

What causes diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. Diabetes can cause the tiny blood vessels in the retina to swell and then bleed or leak fluid. This happens in many parts of the body, and can cause problems like kidney disease and poor circulation to the legs.

In the eyes, this process can slowly damage the retina. Both eyes are usually affected.

The longer you have diabetes, the more likely it is that you’ll get diabetic retinopathy. Your risk also increases if your blood sugar levels are not well controlled or if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms

If you have diabetic retinopathy, you might:

  • have blurred, distorted or patchy vision that can’t be corrected with prescription glasses
  • find it more difficult to read or watch television
  • become sensitive to glare
  • have trouble seeing at night
  • have problems with your balance.

You might not notice any symptoms in the early stages. So if you have diabetes, it is important to get your eyes checked regularly.

Diabetic retinopathy diagnosis

Diabetes Australia recommends that if you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked when your diabetes is first diagnosed and then at least once every 2 years. See your doctor or organise an eye test with an optometrist if you notice any changes in your vision. Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed by an eye exam, and if necessary your doctor may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).

Diabetic retinopathy treatment

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy can slow or prevent vision loss. Laser treatment can be used to seal leaking blood vessels and stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Surgery may be needed in people with more advanced diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy prevention

You can reduce your risk of diabetic retinopathy or further vision loss by:

  • keeping your blood glucose levels under control
  • having regular eye checks
  • maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Last reviewed: August 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 55 results

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. Regular eye exams will reduce the risk of vision loss and blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy. Laser treatment is used successfully to treat retinopathy. All people with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Diabetic retinopathy | Vision Initiative

Information about diabetic retinopathy

Read more on Vision Initiative website

Diabetic Retinopathy | Fred Hollows

The Fred Hollows Foundation's programs treat many diseases like diabetic retinopathy which can lead to blindness. Learn about this terrible eye condition.

Read more on Fred Hollows Foundation website

Diabetic Eye Disease: Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy | myVMC

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects diabetics

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Diabetic Retinopathy Overview | myVMC

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common of all diabetic eye diseases and typically affects both eyes. It is a severe condition which may cause vision loss and is a leading cause of blindness in working age adults.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Diabetic Retinopathy | myVMC

A person with diabetes can develop damage to the blood vessels that provide nourishment to the retina of the eye, leading to diabetic retinopathy. They may experience blurred vision, blank areas, or glare when in bright light.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Diabetic Eye Disease: Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy | myVMC

Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, previously called background retinopathy, is the earliest stage of diabetic eye disease

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Retinopathy in diabetes - myDr.com.au

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels in the retina become swollen or new tiny blood vessels grow, which damage the retina.

Read more on myDr website

Key facts Diabetic retinopathy Eye health workforce portal Other health conditions Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet

/uploads/docs/dr-key-facts.pdf

Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

Diabetes and Eye Diseases | myVMC

Diabetes is a condition that affects the bodys ability to control sugar levels. This can be due to autoimmune damage to the pancreas (Type 1 diabetes), or due to decreased effects of insulin due to poor diet, such as in the much more common Type 2 diabetes. Both these types of diabetes are associated with a wide range of complications, such as kidney disease or diabetic eye disease.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback