More than 9300 people in the region live with diabetes, but 4600-plus of those aren't having regular eye health checks - putting themselves at risk of blindness.
These are the numbers behind a new program that aims to help save the sight of Tamworth locals who aren't having their checks within advised time frames.
People who sign up for the program, KeepSight, will receive eye health information and reminders when they're due for an eye check.
Specsavers Tamworth optometrist and co-owner, Grant Harvey said it was "a huge step forward in the fight against diabetes-related blindness", because the eye damage usually started long before any symptoms.
"Diabetes tends to slow your blood flow down and people are unaware of those early alterations ... They start getting bleeds and aneurysms in the retina and over time these become worse," he said.
"In the last stage, it starts to affect their eyesight.
"So it's pretty silent up until the point where they can't see and, usually, by the time you're getting to that point, it's a bit late and we can't actually do much about it."
KeepSight has been developed by Diabetes Australia, with Specsavers, Vision 2020 Australia and the federal government.
Its aim is to prevent diabetes-related blindness by detecting problems early, when they are treatable.
Diabetes Australia chief executive, Professor Greg Johnson, said diabetes was "a complex condition" requiring "a range of regular health checks and tests to manage".
"It can be time-consuming and confusing, and sometimes things get overlooked," Professor Johnson said.
"Many people with diabetes are not even aware they need to have their eyes checked."
Mr Harvey said Specsavers had recently introduced hospital-grade 3D diagnostic technology that gave even more information about the eye, and was now being included in checks for all patients, at no extra cost.
"By introducing OCT [Optical Coherence Tomography], technology into our practice and screening every single patient, we are improving our detection rates of diabetic eye disease and are able to more accurately grade diabetic retinopathy," he said.
- People with diabetes can register for reminders at www.keepsight.org.au