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Diabetic retinopathy through a patient's eyes

Around 275 Australians develop diabetes each day, prompting CERA researchers to investigate the disease from every angle.

image-tools (27)Loretta Bastian (pictured) works hard to keep her diabetes in check through regular exercise and a healthy diet.

And while the positive 65-year-old is proof that the disease needn’t be a life sentence, she has a strong warning for other diabetics – don’t ignore your eye sight.

Loretta was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy five years ago after noticing black spots in her vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes. If left untreated, it can cause vision loss and blindness.

Loretta has joined a CERA study that aims to measure the impact of the disease on a person’s wellbeing. 

PhD student Eva Fenwick said that while diabetic retinopathy’s impact on vision is well documented, its social and emotional impact is relatively unknown.

“From talking to patients, we know the disease can significantly impair participation in daily life,” Ms Fenwick said.

“It also causes emotional distress with participants frequently reporting fear of further vision loss and social isolation,” she said.

The study’s results will help clinicians assess treatments from a patient’s perspective, including symptom severity and compliance with treatment guidelines.

“Vision loss in diabetics is often caused by poor diabetes management yet vision loss is a barrier to  proper diabetes control,” Ms Fenwick said.

“We aim to prevent this harmful cycle from occurring.”

For more information contact Eva Fenwick on 03 9929 8363.