NEARLY a third of Aussies diagnosed with diabetes don't know it can lead to blindness.
Despite macular disease being the leading cause of blindness in Australia, a survey for Macular Disease Foundation Australia has found 64 per cent of diabetics are in the dark when it comes to understanding the condition.
The data, released to mark Macula Month which runs in May, also found one in nine Australians are unsure or unaware of the function of the macula.
Macular disease is a term used to describe a number of diseases that affect the macula (located at the centre of the retina, at the back of the eye).
Two of the most common diseases affecting the macula include diabetic eye disease (such as diabetic retinopathy) and age-related macular degeneration.
Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of preventable blindness in working-aged Australians.
Macular Disease Foundation Australia chief executive Dee Hopkins said the findings are concerning because 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," said Ms Hopkins.
Diabetes Australia chief executive Greg Johnson agreed.
"Around 1.7 million Australians are living with diabetes. Approximately 1.2 million know they have the condition, while an estimated 500,000 are living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes," he said.
Of the 1.2 million people who have been diagnosed about 65,000 have sight-threatening eye disease.
"We strongly encourage people diagnosed with diabetes to have regular eye tests, and to ask a health professional about the health of their eyes.
The study does contain some good news. It shows that the number of Australians aged over 50 who are aware of having their macula checked in the last two years has risen from one in three in 2007 to two in three in 2018.
Ms Hopkins said no matter what your age, if you have sudden changes in your vision you should have your eyes tested immediately.
Macular disease funding boost
Macular Disease Foundation Australia's Dee Hopkins has welcomed government plans to set up a national action plan to better support patients with macular disease.The government announced $150,000 funding for the development of a Strategic National Action Plan for Macular Disease to provide a streamlined approach to the treatment and management of the disease across Australia to help deliver better outcomes for patients. Ms Hopkins said the plan was a "great step forward" in addressing this chronic disease.
REDUCE YOUR RISK OF MACULAR DISEASE
- Regularly have a comprehensive eye test and ask about your macula.
- If you smoke, quit!n Maintain an eye-healthy diet and lifestyle.
- For further information about macular disease phone 1800 111 709
More info www.mdfoundation.com.au