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November 14, 2019

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World Diabetes Day

‘Don’t turn a blind eye to diabetes’, safety managers are warned

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has issued a warning surrounding the risk of blindness linked to the condition and has explained how workplace eye care can aid its early detection.

An estimated 4.7million people in the UK are affected by diabetes which, if not treated with proper medication and a healthy diet, can be life-threatening. Perhaps more surprisingly, around 1 million people are undiagnosed and are living wit diabetes without knowing about it. According to Specsavers, only one in five adults is aware that an optician can detect signs of diabetes during an eye test.

Early detection

eyecareMany people with diabetes do not get any symptoms and it can take up to 10 years for them to be diagnosed. But left untreated, diabetes can damage the heart, kidneys, eyes and feet.

A simple eye test can detect the signs of diabetes. The tiny blood vessels in the back of the eye are affected by the condition, and changes can be detected by an optician. Around one in three people will have complications by the time they are diagnosed with diabetes, so regular eye tests are an important tool in making sure diabetes is detected and managed.

Jim Lythgow, Director of Strategic Alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: “An eye test is such a simple and inexpensive way to check on the signs of many wider health conditions, including diabetes. As part of their health and well-being programme, we are urging safety managers to ensure they have an eye care policy in place for all employees.”

Research carried out by Opinium on behalf of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare showed that:

  • Diabetes is responsible for 5% of all sight loss in the UK;
  • 7% of people in England and Wales with newly registered sight loss have diabetes;
  • Diabetes is one of the leading causes of preventable sight loss in the UK;
  • 14% of working age people who have severe visual impairment have diabetes;
  • More than a quarter of people with Type 2 diabetes have some form of diabetic retinopathy;
  • More than 1,700 people have their sight seriously affected by their diabetes every year in the UK;
  • By the time they are diagnosed, one in three people already have complications with their eyes, feet, kidneys or nerves.

The employer’s role

Specsavers says that there is still around a third of employers that offer no eye care at all to its staff. It’s a legal requirement that eye tests should be provided to staff who use a screen or drive for work They are also likely to be offered to those needing prescription safety eyewear. As such, the majority of employers should already be providing a regular eye test for employees.

Jim Lythgow continued: “Diabetes is one of the fastest growing health conditions today. Safety managers are in a unique position to be able to make a very real difference to the health and wellbeing of employees. In instigating eye care for all they could not only have a positive effect on morale and productivity, but they could actually be saving sight and even lives.”

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