Campaign to highlight awareness of sight-threatening condition in people with diabetes
According to research, over three quarters (75%) of people with diabetes in Ireland have not heard of the condition Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). DME is the most common form of Diabetic Retinopathy (DR), which is the biggest cause of blindness in working-age Irish adults1. According to the NCBI and Diabetes Action, DR causes, on average, one person with diabetes to go blind each week in Ireland.
Research which was conducted amongst members of Diabetes Ireland, showed that risk to eye sight is clearly the health complication that people with diabetes are most concerned with (42%), followed by heart conditions (26%) and kidney damage (26%). Despite this concern, however, over a quarter (27%) of people with diabetes are not getting their recommended annual full eye examination.
A number of patient organisations have come together to launch a new campaign to highlight the eyesight risks associated with diabetes, the importance of eye screening and the treatments that are available should anyone with diabetes develop diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes Ireland, the National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI), the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI), the Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO) and Fighting Blindness, with the support of Novartis, are hosting a public information evening entitledVisualEYES the Risks: Managing Your Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy at 6.30pm, Thursday 31st May at the O’Callaghan Alexander Hotel, Dublin 2.
Kieran O’Leary, CEO of Diabetes Ireland said, “The number of people with diabetes inIreland is growing rapidly and at present there are an estimated 210,000 people with the condition and approximately 30,000 of these undiagnosed. In some cases diabetes can lead to vision impairment and even vision loss. The most effective way to prevent vision loss as a result of diabetes is to control your diabetes properly. This includes being sure to attend all your healthcare appointments and, to have a full eye examination on an annual basis.”
According to Mark Cahill, eye doctor and retinal specialist at the Royal Victoria Eye andEar Hospital, “The main issue with Diabetic Retinopathy is that in the early stages, there are no symptoms of the condition and there is no pain experienced. This means that anyone with diabetes should make sure to have a full eye exam, on an annual basis, so that any signs of Diabetic Retinopathy can be detected as early as possible.
“By far the most common form of Diabetic Retinopathy which may damage your vision is Diabetic Macular Edema. This accounts for eight out of ten cases of Diabetic Retinopathy. There are very effective treatments available for Diabetic Retinopathy, including Diabetic Macular Edema, in the form of injections and laser. These treatments can slow progression and even restore lost vision, however early diagnosis is crucial to maximise their effectiveness.”
Lynda McGivney-Nolan, Optometric Advisor with the AOI, said “It is important that people do not confuse their full diabetic retinopathy eye examination with a regular eye test that you might have when getting glasses or being checked for glaucoma or cataract for example. Diabetic Retinopathy and DME are detected during an eye exam which uses a digital camera to photograph the back of the eye.”
Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director of Novartis Ireland, said “In addition to supporting clinical trials in Ophthalmology in Ireland, Novartis is delighted to support this campaign to help raise awareness of sight-threatening conditions such as Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema, and to help patients in Ireland get access to innovative treatments for their condition.”
If a person who has diabetes notices any changes in their vision, they should contact a member of their diabetes healthcare team immediately. For more information on Diabetic Retinopathy and the risks associated with diabetes, please see www.diabetes.ie.