Quick facts about Diabetic Retinopathy
Leading cause of blindness in working age Australians
Caused by complications of diabetes
Early diagnosis can prevent 98% of severe vision loss
Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic Retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes, which causes damage to the blood vessels connected to the retina at the back of the eye. This leads to increasingly blurred, patchy and fluctuating vision.
Almost all people with Type 1 Diabetes and over half of people with Type 2 Diabetes will develop some form of this eye disease within 20 years of their diagnosis. However, vision loss may be reduced or prevented if the condition is detected early and treated appropriately.
Effects of Diabetic Retinopathy
Early symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy may include eye strain, blurred vision and headaches. Many people affected by the condition may not realise it is present until the advanced stages when vision loss is already significant.
The effects of Diabetic Retinopathy can include:
- Difficulty with night vision
- Struggling to focus
- Difficulty completing fine detailed tasks (like reading and watching television)
- Double vision
- Blurry or patchy vision
- Sensitivity to light
People with Diabetic Retinopathy might still be able to move around safely with minimal difficulty, or even be able to pick out items with their remaining vision.
“I had diabetes that was undiagnosed until I lost my vision. Now I can only see black and white contrast but with the help that Guide Dogs Queensland provides, it’s much more manageable.”
Who is at risk?
People most at risk of developing Diabetic Retinopathy are those with high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure or a long history of diabetes. However, the risk of being affected by the condition can be minimised by taking prescribed medicines and controlling blood sugar levels through a healthy diet.
Diabetes can also increase the risk of other vision conditions, so it is always recommended that people with this condition have regular eye checks.
Regular eye examinations are important for all Australians, and essential for those suffering from eye disease or vision impairment.