In alignment with World Diabetes Day on 14 November, Sydney-based ophthalmologist, Dr David Robinson, seeks to raise awareness about the negative consequences diabetes has on eye health.
Diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in Australian adults, the prevalence of which will continue to grow without proper awareness. Early detection, and thus early intervention, is the key to reducing a patients risk of permanent vision impairment.
Now that we are coming out of the pandemic, one of our top priorities needs to be making people more aware of the impacts of their lifestyle choices
“90% of all vision impairment is preventable,” says Dr Robinson, “as indeed is Diabetes Type II and blindness due to Diabetes Type II.”
Despite this, approximately 50% of people living with Diabetes in Australia do not have regular eye checks.1
“COVID provided a dangerous cocktail of inactivity and unhealthy eating when it comes to obesity and the potential for diabetes type II,” says Dr Robinson.
“Now that we are coming out of the pandemic, one of our top priorities needs to be making people more aware of the impacts of their lifestyle choices.”
Dr Robinson endeavours to raise awareness through educating both patients and the general public. First and foremost, he moves his patients through the stages of learning, from what he refers to as ‘unconscious incompetence’ – where they are unaware that their unhealthy lifestyle choices are putting their sight at risk – and ‘conscious incompetence’ – where they are aware of the damage they are causing – towards ‘conscious competence’ and, ideally, ‘unconscious competence’, which involves patients consistently bettering their overall health for the greater good of their vision.
“Embracing a diet low in sugar and highly processed foods, high vegetables and omega 3 rich foods such as salmon, as well as having regular eye checks, are the best ways to protect your eyes from Diabetes Type II and its associated eye diseases,” said Dr Robinson.
This important message echo’s that of 2020 Australian of the Year Dr James Mueke, who’s efforts gained commendable momentum amid the pandemic. In a similar vein, the Australian Society of Ophthalmologist’s call for the Federal Government to introduce a sugar-tax in 2016 was influential in creating an environmental conducive to preventative healthcare.
“Whilst I am an Ophthalmologist, who specialises in eye surgery, I am a doctor first,” said Dr Robinson. “The eyes are only one part of the body – and they don’t operate separately from the rest of the body. We can’t expect our eyes to be healthy if the rest of our body isn’t.
“It’s all about helping to create an environment that helps to contribute to preventative health (including eye) care.”
Dr Robinson continues to raise awareness on social media and engage other health professionals in the hope of developing a collaborative approach to dealing with diabetes related illnesses.