What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is the condition caused by damage to your retina through diabetes. In diabetes, damage to the blood vessels in the retina can cause problems. The blood vessels leak or clog up and don’t let enough blood through – this can lead to vision loss.

People with diabetes are also more at risk of developing Cataracts and Glaucoma.

Although these are potential issues for diabetics, having diabetes does not necessarily lead to sight loss. If caught early, diabetic eye disease is usually treatable, with drug, laser or surgical interventions. Its progress can also be slowed through your own interventions – such as managing your diet and blood pressure.

If not identified and treated, it can however lead to significant vision loss and even blindness.

In New Zealand, all people with diabetes should have regular screening to check for eye trouble. Diabetes New Zealand recommends a full diabetes eye check when you first know you have diabetes. From that time on you should have a full eye check at least every two years. It is important that your doctor refers you to your local Diabetes Services Retinal Screening Programme, run by Diabetes New Zealand.

For more information about diabetic eye disease, visit the Save Sight Society website and select the ‘Diabetes’ tab.