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Optical Confederation has eyes on diabetes for World Diabetes Day

The Optical Confederation (OC)  welcomes the eye health focus of this year’s World Diabetes Day  but warns that screening for diabetic eye disease is not a substitute for a full sight test and regular eye care.

The theme of this year’s World Diabetes Day is ‘Eyes on Diabetes’, with organisations across the world promoting the importance of screening to ensure early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications – especially avoidable loss of sight through diabetic eye disease.

Despite screening,  the number of people with diabetes is still rising fast across the UK and Europe.

OC Acting Chair, Lynda Oliver explained: “Thanks to effective screening in the community, diabetic retinopathy is no longer the leading cause of blindness in England and Wales. However, it is important for the public and primary care partners to remember that diabetic eye screening is not the same thing as regular sight tests, which everyone should have.  This is essential for health and wellbeing, to correct sight and detect signs of other eye conditions which, like diabetic retinopathy, are often symptomless.

She added: The Optical Confederation would encourage everyone to arrange a sight test in their local opticians as part of their regular health routine.  The NHS also provides this service for those who cannot leave home unaided, so there is really no excuse for losing sight through lack of access to care.

The OC's David Hewlett will be speaking at a European Parliament event titled "Preventing Sight Loss in an Ageing Population"The OC’s David Hewlett, speaking at the European Parliament this week, in his role as the Chair of European umbrella group the European Coalition of Vision (ECV), emphasised the importance of regular eye examinations for everyone including anyone with diabetic eye disease. Together with colleagues from the European Alliance for Vision Research and Ophthalmology (EU-EYE) and the European Forum Against Blindness (EFAB) he highlighted the ageing population across Europe, the links to diabetes and other diseases and called for more equal  EU research funding into eye disease. 

He said:  “We need more research funding in Europe to enable improvements that not only prolong length of life but also the quality of life as well.  This means more research into eye health, preventing avoidable sight loss, and supporting people to remain independent and active as they age.”