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Why eye testing is crucial: World Diabetes Day 2016

eye-with-diabetesDiabetes is a chronic disease that is the leading cause of preventable blindness in Australia and today World Diabetes Day ‘Eyes on diabetes’ is the theme.

Melanie Larizza of the Behavioural Research in Ophthalmology group of the Centre of Eye Research Australia (CERA) is urging people with diabetes to have their eyes routinely assessed by an eye health professional for diabetic retinopathy, a common microvascular complication of diabetes that often has no symptoms in its early stages.

“Part of my research into diabetic eye disease is to develop and assess new ways to support people in the management of their diabetes which includes attending routine screening for diabetic eye disease to prevent unnecessary diabetes-related vision loss,” Melanie said.

“People living with diabetes have a greater risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma. Routine screening is essential because early intervention is very effective and can save a person’s sight, but it must be timely,” she said.

Eye examinations are recommended at least every two years for people living with diabetes -more often for those with existing diabetic eye disease, Indigenous Australians and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Diabetes affects around 1.7 million Australians, with up to 50% yet to be diagnosed.

For every person diagnosed with diabetes there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role.

This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day. The total annual cost of diabetes in Australia is estimated at $14.6 billion, which accounts for a significant proportion of health spending.

Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system.


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