“More than 70 per cent of Australians with diabetes will develop changes to their eyes within 15 years of diagnosis,” says Nedlands optometrist, Damon Ezekiel.
Patients who have had diabetes for a number of years can develop changes in the retina, at the back of the eye. This is known as diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when tiny blood vessels inside the retina are damaged. The damage can block off small blood vessels, starving areas of the retina of blood, or make the vessels leak, causing swelling and bleeding.
While little is known about prevention of diabetic retinopathy, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent up to 98 per cent of severe vision loss.
“Two types of retinopathy can occur. The first, known as background retinopathy, rarely causes any vision loss and doesn’t require treatment.
The second, proliferative retinopathy, is more serious and requires early treatment to prevent serious vision loss,” said Damon.
In some cases, laser or surgical treatment of the retina is required.
“All people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and the longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk. Poor control of blood sugar levels can also increase the risk,” said Damon.
It is estimated that only half the Australians with diabetes have a regular eye exam and one third have never been checked.
“An eye exam every two years is necessary for people with diabetes because often there are no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy until serious damage has occurred,” said Damon.
Facts and tips
- All people with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy
- An eye exam every two years is necessary for early detection and treatment
- Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent severe vision loss
For further information please contact Ezekiel Eyes or Book an appointment today.