Healthy living

Half a million people with diabetes at risk of blindness

Half a million people with diabetes at risk of blindness Missing out on annual eye check

More than half a million people with diabetes living in England are at risk of blindness because they are not getting their eyes checked.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the country’s working-age population, a complication of diabetes that occurs when blood vessels in the retina of the eye become blocked, leaky or grow haphazardly. Untreated, it can cause sight loss and even blindness.

However, annual retinal screening at an eye clinic can spot signs of the disease.

Health charity Diabetes UK has warned that annual screening for the condition is just one of the vital health checks many diabetics are missing out on.

Around 2.8 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes, and an estimated 850,000 people have Type 2 diabetes but don't know it.

Recent figures show that nearly a third of people with Type 1 diabetes and one in seven with Type 2 diabetes have not had a foot check. Diabetes causes 100 amputations a week, of which around 80 per cent are potentially preventable.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "Diabetes is a serious condition which can lead to devastating long term complications including blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

"The tragedy is that, for example, 90 per cent of cases of sight loss could have been avoided if they had been identified early enough and treated appropriately.

"The 15 measures will help ensure people with diabetes are getting the care they need, and if they’re not, Diabetes UK wants people to use the checklist and ask for the standards of care that have been recommended by expert bodies and patients across the UK.

"With the right care and education, there is no reason why people with diabetes shouldn’t live long and healthy lives.”

15 health measures for people with diabetes

  • Get your blood glucose levels measured
  • Have your blood pressure measured
  • Have your blood fats (cholesterol) measured
  • Have your eyes looked and have your legs and feet checked
  • Have your kidney functions monitored
  • Have your weight checked
  • Get support if you are a smoker
  • Receive care planning to meet your specific individual needs
  • Attend an education course
  • Receive paediatric care if you are a child or young person
  • Receive high-quality care if admitted to hospital
  • Get information and specialist care if you are planning to have a baby
  • See diabetes specialist healthcare professionals
  • Get emotional and psychological support

This article was published on Thu 8 September 2011

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