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Diabetes Leading Cause Of Blindness – Take Control Now


Diabetes New Zealand is imploring Kiwis to have regular eye checks to reduce their risk of blindness. This Monday, November 14 is World Diabetes Day, with the theme Eyes on Diabetes.

Everyone who has diabetes is at risk of complications from the condition that can lead to blindness, amongst other serious issues.

It often has no symptoms, but diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, and result in lower limb amputations. Complications can affect those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, especially when blood glucose is not well controlled.

If caught early, diabetic eye disease is usually treatable with drug, laser or surgery. Its progress can also be slowed through self-management of diet and exercise. But if not identified and treated, diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision loss and even blindness.

“Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness – the International Diabetes Federation estimates one in three people with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy,” CEO of Diabetes New Zealand Steve Crew says.

“With up to 260,000 people on the Virtual Diabetes Register, that would equate to nearly 90,000 people in New Zealand.

“Those with diabetes can reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy and other complications by leading a healthy lifestyle, and having regular check-ups, including eye health checks every two years.”

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Blind Foundation Chief Executive Sandra Budd says diabetic eye conditions affect around 500 Blind Foundation clients. “World Diabetes Day is the perfect time to remind people how important regular eye checks are in preventing or managing diabetic eye conditions,” says Budd.

Every District Health Board has an eye screening service that is free for people with diabetes. Ask your doctor (GP) for information about how to have a diabetes eye check. Your GP or diabetes health professional can refer you to a specialised diabetes eye screening service.

Diabetes New Zealand’s new Take Control Toolkit helps people with diabetes to manage their condition. Launched this Diabetes Action Month, it includes a range of more than 60 online materials, that Diabetes NZ members anywhere in the country can access. The toolkit includes essential advice on reducing the risk of complications from diabetes such as diabetic retinopathy, with information across three important categories – Health & Wellbeing Food & Nutrition, Physical Activity.


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