More than 80 per cent of vision impairment in Australia is caused by a mere five conditions – and diabetes increases your risk factor for three of them.
Diabetes, which is the fastest-growing chronic condition in the country, has been known to lead to long-term eye problems that can eventually result in blindness:
Greg Johnson, CEO of Diabetes Australia and adjunct professor at Deakin University, estimates that around half the 1.3 million Aussies who have diabetes are not getting their eyes checked frequently enough, resulting in eye damage being identified too late when treatment options are more expensive – and less effective.
“Many people with diabetes are not even aware they need to have their eyes checked,” Prof Johnson says.
“Often there are no signs or symptoms of eye damage and it is only picked up when people get their eyes checked for reading or when substantial damage has occurred.”
The nature of conditions like diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma is that there are no obvious early warning signs: changes in vision happen so gradually that most people don’t realise something is wrong until the problem is very serious.
To prevent vision loss, it is essential to have regular eye checks with an optometrist or ophthalmologist so they can detect those subtle, early symptoms.
A referral from your GP is not necessary and there is no need to hesitate over expense, as Medicare funds one eye check a year for Aussies aged 65 or older.
Prof Johnson explained that diabetes is a complex condition that requires patients to undertake a range of regular health checks and tests to manage their health, making it easy to overlook eye check-ups. However, Diabetes Australia is offering a free service called KeepSight that allows you to register for reminders to get your eyes checked.
“Diabetes is a complex condition and people with diabetes need to have a range of regular health checks and tests to manage their condition. It can be time-consuming and sometimes things get overlooked,” Prof Johnson says.
“Once people are registered with KeepSight they’ll receive reminders and prompts to have regular diabetes eye checks. Your details will be securely held by Diabetes Australia and only used to provide regular reminders and information to help you keep your sight.”
If you have diabetes, Diabetes Australia has a few suggestions on how you can look after your eyes:
However, the most important thing you can do for your eyesight is to get your eyes checked regularly to ensure health problems are detected and treated early.
“If we detect problems early then people can get early treatment and damage can be prevented and people can keep their sight,” Prof Johnson says.
If you or a loved one are affected by diabetes, you can register for free eye check reminders at KeepSight.
Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.