Diabetic Retinopathy

Simulation image of how diabetic retinopathy affects vision, with dark spots covering most of the image.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the tiny blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye are damaged as a result of diabetes. This can seriously affect vision and in some cases cause blindness.

These images give an impression of what someone with diabetic retinopathy may see compared to someone with normal vision.

Click below to download the full Accessible Fact Sheets for Diabetic Retinopathy:

Accessible Word version (Word, 115KB) - Diabetic Retinopathy

Accessible PDF version (PDF, 88KB) - Diabetic Retinopathy


What are the most common symptoms?

  • Blurred or distorted vision that makes it difficult to read standard print, watch television or see people's faces
  • Increased sensitivity to glare and difficulty seeing at night

Who is at risk?

People who have diabetes are at risk especially if they have:

  • High blood-sugar levels or poorly managed diabetes
  • High blood pressure, particularly if they also have kidney disease
  • A long history of diabetes

Can it be treated?

Laser and other surgical procedures can slow the progression of the disease and decreases the risk of vision loss.

How can people with diabetes reduce the risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy?

  • See an eyecare professional regularly
  • Take prescribed medicines as instructed
  • Control blood-sugar levels and follow a healthy diet

Contact Us

Contact us early and get the support you need. For more information on Vision Australia’s services call our helpline on 1300 84 74 66 or email info@visionaustralia.org. You can also connect with our services here.