Diabetic Eye Screening
For Diabetics, regular eye examinations with an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist are essential. Diabetes can affect the fluid balance and blood circulation in the eyes, which can cause Cataracts, Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy, including Diabetic Maculopathy – one of many abnormal conditions of the Macula. As a result, Diabetes is the leading cause of vision impairment or blindness in Australians under age 60 years, and is second only to Macular Degeneration in those aged over 60 years.
More than 70 per cent of Australians with Diabetes will develop Diabetic eye disease within 15 years of being diagnosed as Diabetic. All insulin-dependant Diabetics will have some eye disease within 20 years of becoming Diabetic. However, it is estimated that about half of all non-insulin dependent diabetics may not be aware that they have Diabetes at all. Many people are diagnosed with Diabetes when they have a health check because they have other concerns. Then it is difficult to assess their risk of eye complications because the time of onset of Diabetes is not known with any certainty. It is not uncommon for signs of Diabetic eye disease to be found at routine eye examination in patients who do not report Diabetes as part of their general health status.
A recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare states that the prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy has more than doubled since 1990. Vision loss caused by Diabetic Retinopathy can be irreversible. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment is essential, and can prevent up to 98% of severe vision loss.
It is estimated that only half of all Australians with Diabetes have a regular eye exam and one third have never been checked. An eye exam at least every two years is necessary for people with Diabetes because often there are no symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy until serious damage has occurred. It is quite possible to have Diabetic eye disease so advanced that vision impairment or blindness is almost inevitable, and not be aware of it at all. No pain, no blurred vision, no red or sore eyes. No kidding!