Diabetic retinopathy

If you have diabetes, your eyes are at risk of damage from diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to sight loss if it's not treated. Eye screening is a key part of your diabetes care.

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy does not usually cause any noticeable symptoms, so you may not even know you have it.

But screening can detect the condition before you notice any changes to your vision. If it is detected early enough, management of the condition can stop it getting worse. Otherwise, by the time symptoms become noticeable, it can be much more difficult to treat.

The day of your appointment

The check takes about 30 minutes and involves examining the eyes and taking photographs of the retina to assess its health.

Bring all the glasses and contact lenses you wear, along with lens solution for contacts.

Drops may be used to examine your eyes in a diabetic appointment – these can temporarily affect your vision. Please check when making the appointment if you will be able to drive immediately after the appointment.

You may be referred to an ophthalmologist if:

  • The photographs are not clear enough to give an accurate result
  • You have retinopathy that could affect your sight and follow-up treatment is needed
  • You have retinopathy that needs to be checked more than once a year
  • Other eye conditions are detected, such as glaucoma or cataracts

If your results show no retinopathy or background retinopathy, you will be invited back for another screening appointment a year later.


If you have sight problems in between screening appointments, such as sudden vision loss or deterioration in your vision, seek immediate advice by contacting your optometrist, ophthalmologist or hospital. Do not wait until your next screening appointment.

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Frequently asked questions

Did you know?

AA Members are entitled to a free eye test (valued at $60), once every two years. Remember to present your AA Membership card in store.

Free exam for AA Members applies to standard eye examinations only, normally valued at $60. Excludes contact lens examination and visual field checks. Limited to one per AA Member every two years. Available to current AA Members upon presentation of AA Membership card.