During National Diabetes Week (June 8 - 14), staff at the Specsavers store in Abbeycentre are urging people to undergo a routine eye examination, which can detect the life-limiting condition.
Almost 80,000 people in Northern Ireland, aged 17 and over are currently living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. More than 1,000 children and young people under 17 are now known to have type 1 diabetes. There are also an estimated 10,000 people who have diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed.
The disease can be detected in its early stages through a simple eye test. Early diagnosis can also help put the individual in control, meaning they’re less likely to develop eye problems in the future.
Tony McGinn, store director at Specsavers Abbeycentre, commented: “Diabetes is on the increase in Northern Ireland, as it is worldwide, and is the leading cause of blindness in the UK’s working-age population.
“People with diabetes are 10 to 20 times more likely to go blind than someone without the condition because they are at risk from developing a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. However, if retinopathy is detected early through an eye examination and treated, blindness can be prevented in 90 per cent of cases. This is one of the reasons why we recommend an eye examination every two years.
“Being diagnosed with diabetes does not necessarily mean you will be affected by eye problems, or lose your sight, but it can increase your risk of developing such problems. Undetected diabetes can lead to eye issues including cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.”
Specsavers carries out over 200,000 eye examinations in Northern Ireland a year. All optometrists are trained to spot signs of diabetes. Eye tests are free under the NHS to the over 60s, under 16s, those under 19 in full-time education, people already diagnosed with diabetes and those aged 40 or over who are either the brother, sister or child of a diagnosed glaucoma patient.
For more info call 028 9036 9569 or log on to www.specsavers.co.uk/newtownabbey