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Diabetic retinopathy may present with little or no symptoms in the early stages of disease. Diabetics with more long-term disease may develop symptoms and, eventually, irreversible damage to the retina may occur.
Diabetic retinopathy therefore needs to be diagnosed early on in diabetic patients and routine screening and monitoring is of vital importance in order to preserve vision among these individuals.
The blindness that can eventually be caused by diabetic retinopathy cannot be reversed. Diabetics who are aged 12 years or over need to attend annual checks for the condition. If diabetic retinopathy is detected in the early stages, it can be treated using laser treatment.
For screening, the pupils of the eyes are dilated using certain medicated eye drops and photographs of the retina are then taken. The eye drops may cause blurring of vision for around 5 to 6 hours depending on the type of drops used.
For diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy to be confirmed, several tests are employed: