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Diabetic retinopathy | Kinonga karu nā te matehuka
People with diabetes are at risk of developing retinopathy (also called diabetic eye disease) which occurs in the retinas at the back of the eyes.
Your diabetes can affect the blood vessels in your retinas in several ways. The vessels can weaken and leak, otherwise become blocked and cause swelling. Sometimes, abnormal new vessels grow on the retina. All these changes can lead to vision loss if not addressed.
You can have retinopathy and not know it. This is because often there are no symptoms in its early stages.
Diabetic eye screening is an effective way to detect retinopathy early and allow you to adjust your diet and exercise, and talk with your GP about your medication, all to help regulate your blood glucose/sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
This can reduce or prevent further damage to your retinas, well-before you notice any changes to your vision. The presence of retinopathy can indicate that similar damage is occurring throughout your body also.
Eye screening is an important part of your diabetes care; just like visiting your GP, diabetes nurse and podiatrist.
Diabetes eye screening is available free-of-charge for Taitokerau Northland residents with diabetes.
Screening is usually done every two years, however if we notice any retinopathy, we will arrange to see you in a year’s time or sooner.
Ask your GP to refer you for enrolment with the Diabetes Eye Screening Clinic. Once enrolled, one of our team will contact you to arrange an appointment.
Clinics are held in Whangārei on two days each week. Clinics at communities throughout the region are held on scheduled dates. View/download the Diabetes Eye Screening Schedule for July - December 2022.
We use a modern confocal scanner to photograph the retinas of your eyes. The process is non-invasive, painless and quick, with most appointments completed within 30 minutes.
Some people may require eye drops to dilate their pupils, making them slightly larger temporarily to help achieve the best-possible images. If you do need drops and do not have someone available to drive you home, we will arrange another appointment at a later date.
Before the end of the appointment we will review the images with you and offer feedback. A written report will then be sent to you and your GP. We encourage you to discuss the results when you next meet with your GP.