Diabetes symptoms: Millions unaware of THIS life-changing preventable complication

Diabetes affects more than 4.5 million people in the UK, and another five million people are at risk.

Many people are aware of symptoms that include excessive thirst and fatigue, as well as long term risks to health, such as heart disease and kidney damage.

However, new research has revealed that a significant number are unaware those at risk of diabetes, along with people already diagnosed, are more likely to suffer loss of sight.

According to YouGov research commissioned by Supersavers, around 16 million people in the UK do not know that the condition could lead to blindness.

Such is the relationship between eye health and diabetes that experts reveal an eye test could be one of the earliest ways to spot the condition.

“Shockingly, diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the UK’s working-age population and our research reveals that awareness of it is still low,” said Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers clinical spokesperson.

“A full comprehensive sight test is one of the earliest ways to detect signs of diabetes. “Using a special camera, an optician takes a photo of the back of the eye, where there can be evidence of early signs of the condition, enabling us to take action and refer the patient for further tests.”

Known as diabetic retinopathy, sight loss as a complication of diabetes is caused by  high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye or retina.

If left undiagnosed or untreated it can lead to blindness.

However, sight loss in these situations is often not inevitable.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of preventable sight loss among the working age population, and accounts for seven per cent of people who are blind.

For this reason, Specsavers and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) are urging diabetes sufferers, or those at risk of the condition, to have regular eye tests.

“Nearly one person in 25 in the UK has diabetes, so raising awareness of the importance of early detection is essential,” explained Sally Harvey, Chief Executive of RNIB.

“However, it’s important to stress that routine eye examinations will pick up eye disease at the earliest stages and increase the chance that it can be treated effectively without sight loss occurring. 

“In the meantime there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of it developing. 

“Ensuring you control your blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol as well as attending diabetic eye screening appointments are vital.”

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