A survey of 123 members of the Diabetes New Zealand community has revealed a shocking lack of knowledge around diabetic retinopathy, despite many members experiencing signs or symptoms of it.

The study, organised by Specsavers and Diabetes New Zealand, found that 83% of respondents have experienced one or more vision related symptom that could be a sign of diabetic retinopathy. However, nearly two fifths (38%) didn’t know what diabetic retinopathy was or were unsure and two thirds (65%) indicated that they weren’t attending annual eye tests, the recommended timeframe for those living with diabetes.

More than half (55%) said they had at some point experienced spots or dark strings floating in their vision (often known as floaters), 54% had noticed blurred vision, 26% fluctuating vision, and 10% vision loss, all possible signs of diabetic retinopathy

The data also indicated that the issue around understanding may be more prevalent amongst males living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, with 43% of males not knowing what diabetic retinopathy is or being unsure, compared to 35% of females.

However, men were found to be more likely to be attending annual eye tests, with 51% going at least once a year, compared to 25% of women.