The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has called on all stakeholders to “work together to reduce the rate of preventable vision loss among Australians with diabetes”.
On World Diabetes Day – Tuesday 13 November 2023 – the College is highlighting the importance of regular eye checks to avoid vision loss in people with diabetes.
“Every person with diabetes is at risk of developing conditions which affect their vison. Yet many people with this condition are not receiving the screening and treatment they need to prevent vision loss,” said Dr Grant Raymond, RANZCO President.
“Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common eye diseases resulting from elevated blood glucose levels. This condition causes vision loss which can lead to blindness if not treated. At any given time, one quarter to one third of people with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) will have diabetic retinopathy and about one third of these will have sight threatening retinopathy.
almost all blindness from diabetes can be prevented with regular screening and timely treatment
“We are particularly concerned about the estimated 500,000 Australians living with silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. It is essential that these people are tested for diabetes so they can reduce the risk of preventable effects of this condition, such as vision loss.
“The good news is that the risk of diabetic retinopathy is reduced by good control of blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In fact, almost all blindness from diabetes can be prevented with regular screening and timely treatment,” Dr Raymond said.
Urgent to Address Diabetes in Indigenous Australians
Dr Raymond also highlighted the urgent need for action to reduce the risk of diabetes and diabetic eye conditions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Indigenous Australians are three times more likely to have type 2 diabetes compared to non-Indigenous Australians, with even higher incidence rates for those living in remote areas.
“Only half of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes have had their annual eye check and a quarter of those with diabetes have not had a screening test at all. This compares with a screening rate of 78% among non-Indigenous adults, representing a substantial gap in primary eye care for people with diabetes. We need to do more to ensure regular eye health checks are accessible to Indigenous Australians and other groups at higher risk of eye disease.
“RANZCO calls on all stakeholders to work together to reduce the rate of preventable vision loss among Australians with diabetes and to promote other strategies to address modifiable risk factors, including by reducing consumption of foods containing high fat and sugar,” Dr Raymond said.
See here for more information on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in RANZCO’s Position Statement Diabetes and Diabetic Eye Disease.