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Diabetes is a prevalent health concern in Australia, with close to a million individuals diagnosed and many more yet to be identified. Often, the diagnosis of diabetes is made following an eye examination, as fluctuating vision or bleeding at the back of the eyes can be early indicators of the disease. These signs may manifest even before other symptoms of diabetes become apparent.

One of the most significant complications of diabetes affecting the eyes is diabetic retinopathy. This condition, characterized by damage to the blood vessels in the retina, can lead to severe vision impairment if left untreated. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy is influenced by factors such as the duration of diabetes and the management of blood sugar levels. Alarmingly, about 98% of individuals with diabetes will develop some form of retinopathy within 15 years of diagnosis.

Diabetic retinopathy presents in two main forms: background retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy. Background retinopathy typically does not cause vision loss and may not require immediate treatment. However, proliferative retinopathy is more serious and necessitates early intervention to prevent irreversible vision loss.

Regular eye examinations are vital for individuals with diabetes, as they allow for early detection and monitoring of diabetic retinopathy. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate management can significantly reduce the risk of vision loss and help preserve overall eye health in individuals living with diabetes.

How often should I have my eyes tested?

It is recommended all people with diabetes be examined at least annually as diabetes is becoming a leading cause of blindness throughout the world. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts.

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