This is a term used to describe the common eye complications seen in people with diabetes. It includes diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular oedema, cataracts and glaucoma.
You can reduce your risk by having your eyes checked as soon as possible after being diagnosed with diabetes (this is called a screening test) and then at regular intervals thereafter.
Keeping the diabetes under control is the most important thing you can do – this means eating a balanced diet, getting exercise, not smoking, and monitoring your blood sugar levels. You should also see your doctor regularly to have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked. If you experience any changes in your vision, have your eyes checked immediately.
Diabetic macular oedema is a form of diabetic retinopathy.
It occurs when the swelling involves the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for central vision. Vision can become blurred and distorted, resulting in trouble reading, recognising faces and driving. Macular oedema (swelling) is the usual cause of vision loss related to diabetes and the level of impairment can be significant.
Vision can often be improved by treatment, but the main goal is to stabilise your condition and prevent it from getting worse. The three main treatments of diabetic retinopathy are injections into the eye, laser treatment or vitrectomy surgery. Your doctor will recommend the most appropriate course of treatment.
Smoking is not a risk factor for diabetic eye damage, but it can damage the eye in other ways. It increases the risk of developing cataracts, blockages of retinal arteries and the wet form of age-related macular degeneration. Diabetics who smoke also increase their risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.
No, modern anaesthetics are very effective. Special anaesthetic eye drops are usually used to prevent pain and, for patients undergoing vitrectomy surgery, a sedative is given to relieve anxiety. Following laser treatment or surgery, you may feel some mild discomfort the next day.
IMPORTANT: If you are concerned about your eyes and require an urgent consultation, DO NOT use this form. Please call one of our clinics during office hours or contact your nearest emergency department.