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    Diabetic eye disease FAQs

    We've got the answers to some frequently asked questions here.

    Have questions about diabetic eye disease? 

    We’ve listed some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about diabetic eye disease below. You’ll also find some helpful links. But if your question isn’t in our FAQ list, or if you’d just like to talk to someone about diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular oedema, we’re here for you.

    National Helpline

    1800 111 709

    Macular Disease Foundation Australia operates a free National Helpline, providing information and advice about all types of macular diseases. We also have a range of publications to help you. 

    All MDFA services are free.

    Your eye health professional is best able to provide advice on your individual situation.

    Helpful links

    Diabetes Australia

    Diabetes Australia is the national body. for people affected by all types of diabetes and those at risk. You can find information about living with diabetes, managing your condition, and preventing complications.


    KeepSight is a national diabetes eye screening program encouraging people with diabetes to get their eyes checked.

    By registering with KeepSight, you’ll receive important information and alerts.

    Diabetic eye disease FAQs

    • I don't like getting my eyes dilated for eye exams. Is there another way that my eyes can be examined for diabetic eye disease?

      Dilating (enlarging) your pupils allows your eye health professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist) to get the best view of the back of your eye to check for signs of diabetic eye disease. This is especially true if you have cataract.

      You may be more comfortable if you wear sunglasses after your pupils are dilated. And remember, you shouldn’t drive for several hours after having your pupils dilated. Read more about eye tests.

    • I can't afford eye exams. Is there an alternative?

      Most optometrists bulk bill eye exams.

      If you are seeing an ophthalmologist and are having difficulty paying for eye exams, we encourage you to speak to your ophthalmologist.

    • Can my GP do the tests?

      Not many GPs have the necessary equipment or additional training to perform a full eye exam for diabetic retinopathy. You can ask, but most GPs will ask you to see the optometrist or ophthalmologist.

    • My GP has asked me to see an ophthalmologist. Can I see an optometrist instead?

      In most cases, yes, unless you have other underlying conditions including existing severe diabetic eye disease.

      Optometrists are able to perform comprehensive eye exams for diabetic eye disease. If the optometrist finds anything of concern, they will refer you to an ophthalmologist.

    • I have some retinopathy. Can my optometrist treat me?

      No. If treatment is required for severe, vision-threatening retinopathy, this is performed by an ophthalmologist.

      It is important to know that diabetic retinopathy in its earlier stages typically resolves without treatment with proper management of diabetes and other risk factors, including high blood pressure and cholesterol.

    • Are there any vitamins I should take?

      There’s no evidence that any specific vitamins will help diabetic eye disease. A healthy diet, however, is extremely important to control your diabetes. Your GP can refer you to a diabetes educator and/or a dietitian to help improve your diet. You can also find out more about dietitians’ services here.

    • The ophthalmologist said I should be taking fenofibrate (Lipidil). However, my GP says it isn't necessary because my lipids are okay.

      Ask your GP to talk to your ophthalmologist. There’s evidence that fenofibrate can reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy progression, even for people who have normal lipid levels.

    • My optometrist has picked up some problems. How quickly do I need to see the ophthalmologist?

      Depending on the signs your optometrist saw, you may need to see the ophthalmologist within one to four weeks or even sooner. You should check with your optometrist to confirm.