An alliance of two leading Scottish medical research charities is launching a new vital eye screening program for people with diabetes on the occasion of National Eye Health Week (18 to 24th of September).
Over the next seven days, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Diabetes Scotland will join together to promote regular retinal screening as a way to prevent microvascular complications associated with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
The Chair of National Eye Health Week, David Cartwright, recently warned that an estimated one million people in the UK are living with avoidable sight loss severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives.
According to the State of the Nation’s Eyes Report 2017, this number is forecast to rise by a third by 2030 if we don’t take action now against conditions like diabetic retinopathy, which is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in the UK.
Poor uptake of regular eye tests for diabetic retinopathy is a big risk factor for irreversible sight loss. The Scottish Diabetes Survey 2016 highlighted that many people who were eligible for diabetic retinopathy screening in 2016 failed to have had the eye test. Yet optometrists can spot signs of complications during check-ups well before a patient may notice a change in his/her vision.
The new “How do you see Scotland” campaign, in partnership with Scottish actor Brian Cox, will seek to inspire people to attend eye screening when invited. To do so, Cox narrated a 90-second promotion film which will be shown in Scottish cinemas next week.
The hope is that, during screening, people will learn the importance of small incremental lifestyle changes for their future eye health as well.
Engaging in regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of visual impairment by 58 per cent as opposed to leading a sedentary life, for example.
Quitting smoking is also beneficial as toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the surface and the internal structure of the eye over time.
Regular eye check ups and tests as well as adopting a healthier lifestyle could prevent sight loss complications for many people with diabetes.