Diabetic retinopathy / diabetic eye disease – Adult

Emergency and immediate referrals

Referral to Emergency Department:

  • Nil

Immediate Referral (seen within 7 days):

  • Sudden severe visual loss e.g. vitreous haemorrhage, retinal detachment or retinal vascular occlusion

To contact the relevant service, please refer to HealthPathways Acute Ophthalmology Assessment (seen within 7 days).

Presenting symptoms
  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR)
  • Assessment of severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy threatening vision
  • Macular oedema
  • Vitreous haemorrhage in a person with diabetes
Mandatory referral information (referral will be returned if this information is not included)
  • Date diagnosed/duration (or estimated if unknown)
  • Diabetes type, duration and HbA1c
  • Details and duration of treatments
  • Most recent optometrist or private ophthalmologist report including:
    • Best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) - vision with most recent distance spectacles
    • Refraction
    • Retinal assessment
  • If unable to attach reports please include relevant information/results in the referral
  • Referrer to state reason if not able to include in referral
Note: This information is required to triage accurately, within a clinically suitable timeframe 
Highly desirable referral information
  • Other relevant optometrist or ophthalmologist reports/results if available and where providing it will not delay care:
    • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) results
  • Blood pressure
  • Fasting blood glucose results
  • Previous eye treatment e.g. retinal laser
  • Fasting lipids results
Indicative triage category
Indicative triage category
Cat 1
Appointment within 30 days

Diagnosis of diabetes and any of the following:

  • proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR)
  • vitreous haemorrhage
  • severe nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR)
  • assessment of diabetic retinopathy in pregnancy
  • centre involving diabetic macular oedema (Definition: thickening within 500 microns of the foveal centre associated with microaneurysms, haemorrhages or hard exudates) 
Cat 2
Appointment within 90 days

Diagnosis of diabetes and any of the following:

  • moderate NPDR
  • non-centre involving diabetic macular oedema (Definition: thickening within 2-disc diameters (but not within 500 microns) of the foveal centre associated with microaneurysms, haemorrhages or hard exudates). 
Cat 3
Appointment within 365 days
  • No category 3 criteria
Excluded ophthalmology services

Referral to public ophthalmology outpatient services is not routinely accepted for the following conditions:

Condition Details (where applicable)
Routine screening or mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy
  • Except those without a primary photo screening or local optometrist service
Useful Information for referring practitioners

More information

Email: DOHSpecialistRAC@health.wa.gov.au