Partnering with Diabetes UK to help avoid preventable sight loss

Research indicates that one in five UK adults are unaware that opticians can check for signs of wider health conditions, including diabetes*.

Yet early detection of diabetes is key as those with the condition are 25 times more at risk of going blind.

To help tackle this, Specsavers is partnering with charity Diabetes UK this Diabetes week (11-17 June) to raise awareness and avoid preventable sight loss caused by undetected diabetic retinopathy.

Through advertising and in-store activity, the collaboration with Diabetes UK will highlight the importance of regular sight tests in detecting diabetes and managing any related retinopathy – the most common cause of blindness among people of working age in the UK.

In support of the charity’s Know Diabetes, Fight Diabetes campaign, Specsavers is also stepping up availability of its digital retinal photography (DRP) service by encouraging stores to offer DRP as part of every eye test during Diabetes week. DRP is already included as standard part of an eye test at Specsavers for all patients over 40 and when otherwise deemed necessary by the optician.

Specsavers clinical spokesperson, Dr Nigel Best says: ‘As diabetes diagnoses continue to escalate year-on-year, early detection of diabetes is essential in both managing the symptoms and preventing more serious, long-term complications – like retinopathy’.

‘Our awareness campaign will remind people that regular eye examinations form a crucial part of detecting and managing retinopathy – particularly when it comes to spotting the initial signs of the condition, as well as supporting diabetes patients in managing the impact of the condition on their eye sight.

‘Naturally, we remind people with diabetes that making and keeping regular appointments with an optician also provides the crucial head-start needed when faced with the prospect of life managing diabetes’. He adds: ‘We also aim to tell patients of the direct link between diabetes and obesity, and that eating healthily and losing weight can help reduce the risk of getting diabetes’

Diabetes UK reports that 4.5 million people in the UK have diabetes, with as many as one million not knowing they have it. 11.9 million more people are at increased risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes UK’s clinical advisor Kathryn Kirchner, says: ‘It’s vital that people with diabetes attend their free diabetic annual eye screening appointment. As retinopathy frequently has no symptoms until it is well advanced, people may not be aware of changes to the retina until their vision has been impaired. Annual retinal screening will detect retinopathy early and therefore increase the chances of minimal and more effective treatment.’

Diabetes UK provides services including:

  • Helping everyone to manage their diabetes, with a helpline and forum to provide information, advice and support to help manage diabetes effectively and confidently
  • Campaigning with and for people with diabetes to improve the quality of care across the UK’s health services, so that everyone affected by the condition gets access to the best treatment and standards of care
  • Transforming diabetes care through support for healthcare professionals, sharing knowledge and leadership training to help improve the lives of people with diabetes
  • Funding diabetes research, funding pioneering research into care, cure and prevention for all types of diabetes

CET - Diabetes series

This exciting bundle of topic-based online learning offers up to 7 CET points for optometrists and dispensing opticians, including therapeutic competencies. From a multimedia introduction to diabetes from Consultant Endocrinologist Ketan Dhatariya to a peer-reviewed series of articles on clinical features, screening and management of diabetic eye disease – this is your essential guide to eyecare for diabetic patients.

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