Ahead of World Sight Day (October 10), a new national report on diabetic eye disease casts a dark shadow on the eye health of future generations of Australians with diabetes. Almost all people with type 1 diabetes, which typically develops in childhood, and 60 per cent of those with type 2 diabetes, will develop some form of diabetic eye disease with many going on to experience vision loss or blindness within 20 years of their diabetes diagnosis.
Out of Sight - a report into diabetic eye disease in Australia by Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), provides an overview of the impact of diabetic eye disease, specifically diabetic retinopathy on Australians.
Diabetes, the nation's fastest growing chronic disease, poses a 25 times greater risk of blindness for the almost 1 million Australians diagnosed with the disease (and the 700,000 who presently have undiagnosed diabetes) than for the general population.
"One of the serious complications of diabetes is its considerable impact on vision: an area of diabetes management where timely diagnosis and treatment is not at its optimum. With the number of Australians affected by diabetes expected to double in the next decade, including the rise in type 2 diabetes in young people and the prevalence of type 1 diabetes increasing by approximately 3% every year, particularly in very young children, diabetic eye disease will continue to pose significant personal, public health and economic challenges," said Associate Professor Jonathan Shaw, Head of Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.
Affecting an estimated 300,000 Australians, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Australians under 60, affecting them during the prime of their working lives.