The staff in Specsavers in Blackpool are raising awareness about how eye examinations can help manage the sight-threatening condition after new research* released by the Diabetes UK charity estimated that more than 3.3 million people live with the condition.

The figures, representing a 1.2 million increase in the number of people with diabetes since 2005, do not include the 590,000 people in the UK estimated to be living with the condition undiagnosed.

Early diagnosis

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the UK’s working age population, and Specsavers in Blackpool is hoping to raise understanding of the condition in order to increase the likelihood of early diagnosis.

Craig McGill, a director at the Blackpool store said: ‘Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are life-long conditions that if not managed properly can lead to heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and blindness.’

‘Diabetes affects the eye in a number of ways; the unusual changes in blood sugar levels seen in diabetics can affect the lens inside the eye leading to blurred vision. This can lead to cataracts if undetected.

‘Diabetics are at a higher risk of developing retinal problems so we recommend that anyone with the condition has their eyes tested every two years. Anyone with diabetes should also be offered a yearly check-up through the NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme.

People with diabetes are 20 times more at risk of going blind than someone without the condition. Regular eye examinations can prevent eye damage associated with diabetes as early detection and treatment prevents sight loss.'

Trained to be vigilant

All Specsavers optometrists are trained to spot the signs of diabetes during a regular eye examination.  Eye tests are free via the NHS to the over 60s and those under 19 in full-time education, as well as to people already diagnosed with diabetes.   

*Diabetes UK - Number of people with diabetes up 60 per cent in last decade

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