On World Diabetes Day, Vision 2020 Australia is encouraging all Australians living with diabetes to get their eyes examined.
Diabetes is a leading cause of preventable blindness in Australia. Approximately 1.7 million Australians live with diabetes and everyone with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetes-related eye disease, which left untreated can result in vision loss and blindness.
Vision 2020 Australia CEO Carla Northam says it is essential for people with diabetes to have regular eye examinations.
“98% of severe loss of vision from diabetes can be avoided if detected early, however awareness of preventing diabetes-related eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy is low.
“According to the National Eye Health Survey
, released by Vision 2020 Australia and the Centre for Eye Research Australia in October this year, half of Indigenous Australians and a quarter of non-Indigenous Australians are not having an eye examination at the frequency recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council.”
People with diabetes need to have an eye examination when diabetes is first diagnosed and then at least every two years for non-Indigenous Australians and every year for Indigenous Australians (or earlier if recommended by an optometrist or ophthalmologist).
Diabetes-related eye diseases include diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema. Diabetes also increases the risk of glaucoma and cataracts.
“The duration of diabetes, high blood glucose levels and high blood pressure, all contribute to increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy,” said Ms Northam. “People with all types of diabetes are at risk of diabetes-related eye disease.
“The good news is the progression of diabetic retinopathy can be slowed in the early stages by maintaining healthy blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A healthy diet and active lifestyle can also prevent diabetic retinopathy.”
In the UK, Sweden, Poland and other countries, systematic retinal photography programs for people living with diabetes have dramatically reduced diabetes-related blindness.
Diabetes Australia and Vision 2020 Australia are calling for a similar diabetes blindness prevention initiative in Australia.
To mark World Diabetes Day, Diabetes Australia and Vision 2020 Australia are holding a joint Parliamentary Friends Group event on 23 November 2016 at Parliament House to raise awareness about diabetes-related eye disease and the need for a diabetes blindness prevention initiative.
For more information:
Adam Sawell at Vision 2020 Australia
About Vision 2020 Australia
Vision 2020 Australia is the national body working in partnership to prevent avoidable blindness and improve vision care in Australia. It represents around 50 members involved in local and global eye car, health promotion, low vision support, vision rehabilitation, eye research, professional assistance and community support. Diabetes Australia is a member of Vision 2020 Australia.