Diabetes is responsible for a number of debilitating conditions that arise as complications of the disease. These include nerve damage, gum disease, and eyesight problems. In the past decade, according to a recent study, the number of blind people in Ireland has increased by 37 per cent. Although most cases of vision loss results from natural ageing processes, recently the increase in numbers has been attributed to increasing prevalence of diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when fluctuations in blood glucose levels damages the cells of the eyes. Diabetic retinopathy rose from the 11th most common reason for loss of vision in 1996 to the 5th most common in 2003.
Experts involved in the study, at Mater hospital, highlighted the fact that diabetic retinopathy is preventable, and should be able to be identified at a stage before it causes threats to sight. The problem lies in the fact that there are too few medical personnel or enough money to identify those in need of treatment. The study authors, who conducted their researched with the National Council for the Blind in Ireland, called for national screening.
In Ireland, there are approximately 200,000 cases of diabetes, with type 2 making up 85 per cent of recorded cases. Obesity, inactivity, and bad diet were perceived as major contributing factors.

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