SYDNEY: 11 July 2016: A person with diabetes is 25 times more likely to go blind than other people. With 1.7 million Australians currently living with diabetes, the strain that diabetic related eye disease has on Australian health services is immense. It is only through continued funding into eye research, and increased screenings, that can we progress towards seeing a clearer future, according to The Eye Surgeons’ Foundation.
As part of its ninth annual community awareness ‘JulEYE’ campaign, and in support of National Diabetes Week, (10 – 16 July) The Eye Surgeons’ Foundation is asking Australians to donate $ 1 for every year they have enjoyed good sight to help fund research and treatments to address the alarming rate of diabetes-related eye diseases.
Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults¹. Over 90 percent of vision loss in people with diabetes can be prevented with optimal management and effective treatment of their diabetes, which includes regular eye checks for early diagnosis. The longer a person lives with diabetes, the more likely they are to fall victim to an eye disease, despite their type or age.
Professor Mark Gillies, who specialises in emerging treatments for diabetic eye disease, explains, “Diabetes can cause progressive damage to the eye’s retina, triggering the blood vessels at the back of the eyes to leak fluid, causing swelling of the retina. 44 percent of people with diabetes will develop Diabetic Retinopathy at some stage in their lives.”
Research shows that 40 percent of Australians living with diabetes still neglect regular eye examinations – with one in three admitting to never having had their eyes tested. Effective treatment is available for those who do detect it early.
“In order to reduce the risk of blindness, people with diabetes should not wait for symptoms to occur as there are usually no warning signs. Treatment is designed to prevent loss of vision – by the time vision is affected, permanent damage may have already been done,” warns Professor Gilles.
Jacinta Spurrett, CEO of The Eye Surgeons’ Foundation says, “The increased incidence of diabetes and the potential for vision loss continues to highlight the need for national collaborative research project into the causes, treatment and prevention of eye disease such as Diabetic Retinopathy. We need to alleviate the suffering and distress caused by eye disease and to do this we need to put the cleverest minds in eye health to work – and that takes funding.”
“Whether you suffer from diabetes or not, we can’t ignore the rate of vision loss. You, or someone you may know may be at risk of losing their sight, but you can help to find a cure by donating towards vital eye research this JulEYE.”
This JulEYE please donate $1 for every year you’ve enjoyed good sight to help fund vital research and end preventable blindness, visit www.juleye.com.au
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