Diabetic retinopathy

If you have diabetes, your eyes are at risk of damage from diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to sight loss if it's not treated. Eye screening is a key part of your diabetes care.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy does not usually cause any noticeable symptoms, so you may not even know you have it.

But screening can detect the condition before you notice any changes to your vision. If it is detected early enough, management of the condition can stop it getting worse. Otherwise, by the time symptoms become noticeable, it can be much more difficult to treat.

The day of your appointment

The check takes about 30 minutes and involves examining the eyes and taking photographs of the retina to assess its health.

Bring all the glasses and contact lenses you wear, along with lens solution for contacts.

Drops may be used to examine your eyes in a diabetic appointment – these can temporarily affect your vision. Please check when making the appointment if you will be able to drive immediately after the appointment.

You may be referred to an ophthalmologist if:

  • The photographs are not clear enough to give an accurate result
  • You have retinopathy that could affect your sight and follow-up treatment is needed
  • You have retinopathy that needs to be checked more than once a year
  • Other eye conditions are detected, such as glaucoma or cataracts

If your results show no retinopathy or background retinopathy, you will be invited back for another screening appointment a year later.

What is KeepSight?

In Australia, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the working age population. Even though Australia has world-class eye health services and a funded healthcare system, too many patients with diabetes lose their sight because they don’t have routine eye tests and miss early signs of the condition.

KeepSight is a reminder program that aims to protect the vision of people with diabetes by ensuring they access their recommended eye tests.

It is a coordinated, national initiative run by Diabetes Australia which utilises and leverages a registry approach using the NDSS. For people with diabetes who currently see a health professional, KeepSight is designed to complement the advice given by GPs and optometrists, and for those who are not under regular care, it is designed to provide relevant information to prompt them to see an optometrist.

Specsavers is a founding partner of KeepSight, contributing $1 million per year for the project’s first five years. The project has also received funding or support from Australian Government Department of Health, CERA, Bayer, Novartis, Mylan, Oculo, Vision 2020, RANZCO, Optometry Australia, Orthoptics Australia, Australian Diabetes Society, the Australian Diabetes Educators Association and several other optometry providers.

If you have diabetes and wish to receive eye test appointment reminders from KeepSight, either:

  1. Ask your optometrist to register you with KeepSight when you have an eye test, or...
  2. Register via the KeepSight website.

Did you know?

Eye tests are bulk billed to Medicare so there are no out of pocket expenses for you.

Frequently asked questions

Listed on a valid Medicare card without Optometry restrictions.