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Most Australian diabetics unaware of vision consequences

02/05/2018By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
More than two-thirds of Australians with diabetes are unaware it can affect vision, according to a study released by the Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA).

Timed to coincide with its inaugural Macula Month campaign, MDFA said the results highlight the need for Australians, particularly those living with diabetes, to be more aware of macular disease and how to minimise the risk. MDFA CEO Ms Dee Hopkins said the findings are concerning as everyone diagnosed with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic eye disease.

“If you are diagnosed with diabetes, having a comprehensive eye test every two years should be a priority. It is important to let your optometrist know that you have been diagnosed with diabetes and ask about your macula. Macula Month is the perfect time to make that appointment,” Hopkins said.


“Knowledge is definitely power in the defence against macular disease, so it’s imperative that Australians learn what they can do to minimise their risk.”
Dee Hopkins, MDFA CEO

“Knowledge is definitely power in the defence against macular disease, so it’s imperative that Australians learn what they can do to minimise their risk.”

Professor Greg Johnson, CEO of Diabetes Australia, said the findings are particularly concerning, in the context of the high prevalence of diabetes in Australia.

“Around 1.7 million Australians are currently living with diabetes. Approximately 1.2 million know they have the condition, while an estimated 500,000 are living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes,” Johnson said.

“Of the 1.2 million people who have been diagnosed, more than 300,000 – between 25 and 35% – have some degree of diabetic retinopathy, and about 65,000 have progressed to sight-threatening eye disease.”

However, despite the relative ignorance of some Australians regarding the effect diabetes could have on their vision, the study showed messaging surrounding age-related macular degeneration was starting to have an effect.

The number of Australians aged over 50 who are aware of having their macula checked in the last two years rose from one in three in 2007 to two in three in 2018.

Image Courtesy: Community Eye Health Journal

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