- 280 Aussies develop this condition every day which equates to 1 every 5 minutes
- 1.7 million Aussies are living with this condition right now
- Diabetes is the leading cause of premature blindness
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood. This happens because the body is not producing insulin or not using insulin properly.
This condition comes in two types:
- Type 1 – this represents 10-15% of all cases
- Type 2 – is more likely in people with a family history
Type 1 occurs when the pancreas no longer produces insulin. This is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in developed nations and requires insulin therapy. This form of diabetes is not caused by lifestyle factors however it is on the rise by 3% a year.
Diagnosis usually comes in childhood or as a young adult, although it can occur at any age.
Symptoms usually have an abrupt onset. They can include excessive thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, weakness, fatigue and irritability.
Type 2 occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or the insulin is not working effectively. Risk factors in developing type 2 include; family history, being overweight (from unhealthy eating and lack of physical exercise). Type 2 diabetes represents 85-95% of all cases, it is managed with lifestyle adjustments, this may require insulin therapy and diabetes medication.
Diagnosis usually comes in adults over the age of 45 but is increasingly occurring at a younger age.
Symptoms sometimes go unnoticed as the disease develops gradually. symptoms may include any of those for type 1 diabetes plus blurred vision, skin infections, slow healing, tingling and numbness in the feet.
What does this condition do to my eyes?
Diabetes can cause leaky blood vessels in the eye. 29% of Australians living with this condition have some form of Diabetic Retinopathy with 4.2% of those having Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy.
- Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) – this includes micro aneurysms, haemorrhages, hard exudates, cotton wool spots, and other vascular signs like bleeding.
- Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR) – this includes pre-retinal or vitreous haemorrhages/new blood vessels, bleeding near the macular and clinically significant macular oedema.
For this reason it is really important to monitor patients and see them every 12 months (or less if required).