Background: To assess the prevalence of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy in indigenous Australians aged ≥40 years.
Design: The National Indigenous Eye Health Survey used a stratified, multistage cluster probability sampling frame to provide a representative sample of the indigenous Australian population.
Participants: One thousand one hundred and eighty-nine eligible indigenous adults were examined using standardized procedures.
Methods: Each participant underwent a comprehensive eye examination included presenting and best corrected visual acuity, visual field, fundus and lens photography.
Main Outcome Measures: Diabetic retinopathy.
Results: The prevalence of diabetes in the 1189 eligible indigenous adults was 37.3% (95% confidence interval: 34.6–40.2%). The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy among 394 people with diabetes was 29.7% (95% confidence interval: 25.2–34.2%), and 17.8% (95% confidence interval: 14.0–21.6%), 8.9% (95% confidence interval: 6.1–11.7%) and 3.1% (95% confidence interval: 1.3–4.7%) for mild or moderate diabetic retinopathy, clinically significant macular oedema and severe or proliferative diabetic retinopathy, respectively. Diabetic retinopathy was presented in 6.3% in those who did not report diabetes. The risk of diabetic retinopathy increased with duration of diabetes (the adjusted odds ratios were 3.4 for 10–19 years, 6.1 for 20–29 years and 25.8 for ≥30 years).
Conclusions: The prevalence of self-reported diabetes in indigenous Australians is more than eight times higher than that in non-indigenous Australians. The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in people with diabetes is similar to that of non-indigenous Australians.