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Wednesday / April 17.
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Diabetic Eye Disease Crisis

A major report has identified a looming crisis in diabetic eye disease and called for the introduction of a nationwide diabetic eye screening system in Australia.

The report, Out of Sight – a report into diabetic eye disease in Australia, says all people with type 1 diabetes, and 60 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes will develop some form of diabetic eye disease.

The report is the work of two leading Australian research institutes – the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA).

With the number of Australians affected by diabetes expected to double in the next decade, diabetic eye disease will pose public health and economic challenges, the report states.

Author and principal investigator, Dr. Mohamed Dirani, from CERA, is critical of the lack of a nationwide diabetic screening system, “even though such systems have been successfully implemented in other countries with significant improvements in outcomes for those with diabetic retinopathy”.

“Considering that prevention is key, we must develop and implement an effective diabetic eye screening program that is accessible to
all Australians with diabetes.

“It is also essential that high-quality treatment of diabetes, including lifestyle advice, and appropriate medication for control of blood glucose
and blood pressure, is provided,” the report says.

Dr. Dirani said “up to 50 per cent of Australians with diabetes do not undergo eye examinations at the recommended minimum frequency of every two years”.

Associate Professor Jonathan Shaw, the Head of Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute said the prevention of diabetes and its complications for eye health “warrants
much greater attention.”

“The expected growth in numbers of Australians living with diabetes in coming years will lead to a corresponding rise in the prevalence of diabetic eye disease and vision loss. This will have major implications not only for the individuals affected, but also for the health system in terms of planning and resourcing,” Assoc. Prof. Shaw said.