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World Diabetes Day: Remember the eye in diabetes

14 November is World Diabetes Day.

Diabetes affects approximately one million Australian adults. Yes, ONE MILLION. Chances are at least one person in your extended family already has it, if not more.

Furthermore, this number is expected to increase to 2 million people by 2025.

Diabetes can have serious health complications, including diabetic eye disease. Known as diabetic retinopathy, this eye disease progresses insidiously and typically presents with no symptoms in the early stage.

It begins with haemorrhages in the back of the eye and the leakage of fluid into the retina. As the disease advances, new abnormal blood vessels grow on the retina surface, threatening the patient’s vision.

Almost every person with type one diabetes and over 60% of those with type two diabetes will develop diabetic eye disease within 20 years of diagnosis.

The good news is that the chances of suffering vision loss from diabetic eye disease can be significantly reduced by achieving optimal diabetes control, having regular eye examinations and obtaining timely treatment.

On World Diabetes Day, CERA is urging people with diabetes to make sure they remember to take care of their eyes. Currently, up to 50% of Australians with diabetes do not undergo eye examinations at the recommended frequency of every two years.

“The message for people with diabetes is clear: get your eyes checked regularly by an eye professional and be very diligent with your diabetes management,” said CERA’s Dr Mohamed Dirani, author of Out of Sight, a report into Diabetic Eye Disease in Australia.