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Counties Manukau Health Ophthalmology

Public Service, Ophthalmology

Diabetic Retinopathy

This is a complication of diabetes and is caused by small blood vessel damage within the retina of the eye.  It commonly affects both eyes and may cause permanent loss of vision.  Macular oedema is sometimes also present with diabetic retinopathy.  Macular oedema is when fluid leaks into the retina and causes swelling and blurred vision.  This may occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, but is more common as the disease progresses. There are often no symptoms in the early stages but as the condition progresses vision may begin to become impaired.  Often visual loss may be sudden and without warning. This is why it is imperative that at-risk diabetics have frequent eye checks. Poorly controlled diabetes and pregnancy in diabetes are risk factors for developing this condition.
Often, first-stage diabetic retinopathy requires no active treatment on the eye but requires stabilisation of diabetes and regular eye examinations. With progressive retinopathy, a laser treatment called the PRP laser can be used. This works by shrinking enlarged blood vessels to prevent further bleeding into the retina. Severe bleeding may require a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy, where blood is surgically removed from the eye.

Treatment of macular oedema, if present, is by focal laser and/or intra-ocular injection. Vision is stabilised by reducing the degree of fluid leakage into the retina.  Often more than one treatment is required.

Diabetes Retinal Screening Programme (DRS) 
We offer free retinal screening for people with diabetes that reside in the Counties Manukau region. 

How Can I Get My Free Retinal Photo-Screen Examination? 
Ask for information about diabetes care from practitioners such as your GP, nurse, midwife, optometrists, ophthalmologists, diabetes specialists or diabetic screening and monitoring services available in your area. 
  • Your GP/Practice Nurse can arrange a referral to the diabetic screening and monitoring services in your area.

Health Professionals:

If you would like retinal screening information pamphlets, please click on the links below:

Document Downloads

This page was last updated at 2:40PM on July 28, 2021.