Diabetes and the Eye

Diabetes has become one of the biggest public health issues in Australia, and is tipped to become more prevalent in the coming decades.


Diabetes can affect many parts of the eyes in a number of ways, with symptoms increasing in severity as the illness progresses.  Problems with vision can occur (blurring, fluctuation, double vision), and it’s believed diabetes may also contribute to cataracts and glaucoma. However, the most debilitating impact the disease can have on the eyes is diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is not uncommon. 80% of people who have lived with diabetes for 20 year or more are affected.

So, what is it?

Diabetes is a metabolic condition characterised by the body’s failure to produce enough insulin, or it being simply unable to use it efficiently.  Insulin breaks down sugars into glucose so they can be used and distributed throughout the body.  When insulin is lacking, sugar builds up in the blood (hyperglycaemia), which can lead to diabetic retinopathy.

The high sugar content in the blood damages blood vessels in the retina, causing them to rupture and bleed.  The retina swells and new blood vessels form, damaging the retina and resulting in the appearance of spots.

As the condition progresses, vision becomes blurred, and if left unchecked, can result in total blindness.

In its earlies stages, there are no symptoms associated with diabetic retinopathy.  This means without regular eye checks, the disease can go undetected at a time when appropriate treatment could protect from future vision loss.

If you suffer from diabetes it is vital that you have yearly eye exams to screen for the early signs of diabetic eye disease.  It is well known that early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care can protect against vision loss.

We offer the latest technology that will detect diabetic eye disease at the earliest possible time.  This includes OPTOS ultrawide field photography and Optical Coherence Tomography which will detect subtle swelling under the retina that is associated with diabetes.

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