Close to a million Australians have diabetes and many more have yet to be diagnosed.
Quite often people are diagnosed with diabetes after having their eyes examined as one of the first signs is a fluctuation in vision from day to day. Another early diagnostic sign is bleeding at the back of the eyes which can be easily picked up through a routine eye examination. The problem associated, known as diabetic retinopathy, can lead to serious loss of vision if not monitored and treated early. The risk of developing retinopathy increases with the length of time you have been diabetic as well as poor control of blood sugar levels. About 98% of diabetics will develop retinopathy within 15 years of diagnosis.
There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: background retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy. Background retinopathy rarely causes any vision loss and requires no treatment. Proliferative retinopathy is more serious and requires early treatment to prevent serious vision loss.
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.