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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 

Saving sight in people with diabetes

Date posted: 22 May 2012

A new diabetic retinopathy screening service will be offered free to people with diabetes to help detect early changes in their eyes and prevent vision loss later in life.

The new screening model, called RetPath, was designed by Associate Professor Ecosse Lamoureux at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) and is funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and supported by Melbourne Pathology and Diabetes Australia, Victoria.

The screening allows diabetics to be screened as part of their regular visit to a pathology centre. It is simple and painless, consisting of a general questionnaire, a vision test and retinal photography.

‘Diabetic retinopathy is a leading complication of diabetes and a major cause of vision impairment and blindness worldwide,' says RetPath Project Manager, Ms Melanie Larizza.

‘A progressive eye disease, it usually has little or no symptoms until the disease has advanced, by which time, any damage caused to the eye and vision is often irreversible.'

To ensure the early detection and treatment of the disease, it is recommended that people with diabetes have a comprehensive eye examination at least once every 2 years. However, research suggests that between 30 - 50 per cent of people with diabetes do not have regular eye check-ups, putting them at risk of irreversible vision loss. In Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders with diabetes this figure is almost 80%.

‘We know that people with diabetes attend pathology centres regularly to have their bloods tested so this is a perfect opportunity to screen for diabetic retinopathy and remind them about the importance of regular eye check-ups,' says Ms Larizza.

‘At 15 years after diagnosis, half of all people with diabetes will develop retinopathy,' says Diabetes Australia, Victoria Chief Executive, Greg Johnson.

Source: Centre for Eye Research Australia

Contacts

Stuart Galbraith
Centre for Eye Research Australia
Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
Peter Howson Wing
Level 1, 32 Gisborne Street
East Melbourne Vic 3002
Ph: (03) 9929 8970
Email: stuart.galbraith@unimelb.edu.au

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Last updated: 22 May 2012
 
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