16 million people unaware of diabetes risk to sight

Posted on November 14, 2017
Author: Lifeatspecsavers

THIS World Diabetes Day (Tuesday 14 November), Specsavers and RNIB are issuing a call for greater awareness around a lesser known symptom of diabetes – sight loss.

Diabetes is the fastest-growing health threat facing our nation. More than 4.5 million people in the UK live with the condition, with a further five million people at risk of developing the disease. But YouGov research commissioned by Specsavers shows that more than 16 million people in the UK are not aware of diabetes related retinal problems. People who are at risk of diabetes or who have diabetes should have regular eye examinations with an optometrist who can check for signs of changes caused by diabetes.

Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers clinical spokesperson, says: ‘Shockingly, diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the UK’s working-age population and our research reveals that awareness of it is still low. A full comprehensive sight test is one of the earliest ways to detect signs of diabetes. Using a special camera, an optician takes a photo of the back of the eye, where there can be evidence of early signs of the condition, enabling us to take action and refer the patient for further tests.’

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.2 Retinopathy (sight loss caused by the disease) is the most common cause of preventable sight loss among the working age population accounting for around 7 per cent of people who are registered blind3.

Sally Harvey, Chief Executive of RNIB says: ‘Nearly one person in 25 in the UK has diabetes,4 so raising awareness of the importance of early detection is essential. ‘However, it’s important to stress that routine eye examinations will pick up eye disease at the earliest stages and increase the chance that it can be treated effectively without sight loss occurring In the meantime there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of it developing. Ensuring you control your blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol as well as attending diabetic eye screening appointments are vital.’

RNIB and Specsavers have joined forces to transform eye health in the UK. This includes a multi-million pound investment in raising awareness of the need for regular eye tests, nationwide fundraising and instore activity.

To learn more log on to https://www.specsavers.co.uk/eye-health/RNIB