Diabetes can affect your eyes in a number of ways. The most serious eye condition related to Diabetes is known as diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, it can lead to the deterioration of vision and, ultimately, blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the small blood vessels of the retina in the back of the eye. The small vessels can be damaged by high blood glucose and high blood pressure. It usually takes several years to get the stage where it could threaten your sight, that is why we recommend you come in for a regular eye examination with one of our qualified opticians.

There are three main types of Diabetic retinopathy:

Background retinopathy is an early stage of retinal damage when small blood vessels in the retina show signs of damage that can result from diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with background diabetic retinopathy, your health team will keep monitoring you to spot any progression of retinopathy and will recommend any treatment that may help to prevent retinopathy from worsening. You’ll be recommended to have a regular eye examination.

Diabetic maculopathy is a condition that can result from retinopathy. Maculopathy is damage to the macula, the part of the eye which provides us with our central vision. A common form of damage is from diabetic macular oedema (DMO) in which fluid builds up on the macular. You might find reading a little difficult or faces in the central vision hard to see.  Diabetic maculopathy is often treated by laser surgery.

Proliferative retinopathy is a developed form of retinopathy whereby new but weak blood vessels begin to form on the retina to help restore blood supply. Proliferative retinopathy is the body’s attempt to save its retina but it can often lead scarring of the retina and can cause the retina to detach, leading to blindness. A regular eye examination usually picks this up before it gets to this stage.

You can lessen the risk by having a regular eye examination. The optometrist will carry out an eye exam where drop may be instilled to dilate the pupil. This enables them to see more of the retina. It is this procedure that can detect eye problems like diabetic Retinopathy. The eye drops can take about 15 to 20 minutes to fully dilate your pupil.


  • Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss in adults of working age (20 to 65 years) in industrialised countries. It is estimated that more than 2.5 million people worldwide are affected by it.
  • 74 percent of people who have diabetes for 10 years or more will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy.
  • Approximately 14 per cent of people with diabetes have diabetic macular oedema and prevalence increases to 29 per cent for people with diabetes who use insulin for more than 20 years.
  • Left untreated, 25 per cent of people with diabetic macular oedema will develop moderate vision loss within three years.