Diabetes Canada’s position statement for sight loss prevention
In this milestone year marking the 100th anniversary of the Canadian discovery of insulin, there is much to celebrate in terms of improved treatments and advancements. And while insulin has saved and improved millions of lives around the world, it is not a cure. Unfortunately, those living with diabetes can still face challenging complications, one of which is blindness.
Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in those 20-65 years of age. Many people living with diabetes have some form of eye damage or "diabetic retinopathy" (DR), leading to vision changes or sight loss.
“People living with diabetes are 25 times more likely than the general population to become blind,” says Dr. Seema Nagpal, Vice President of Science & Policy with Diabetes Canada. “Sight loss and blindness impose a great social and economic burden on individuals and society, reinforcing the urgent need for interventions aimed at reducing the onset of DR in people living with diabetes, and enhanced screening to detect the onset of DR, paired with access to treatments.”
Diabetes Canada’s new Sight Loss Prevention position statement outlines specific recommendations for multi-sectoral stakeholders including federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments; health-care providers; and patients.
There is also a commitment from Diabetes Canada, including continuing to advocate on behalf of Canadians living with DR who are denied access to evidence-based treatment or screening services. “We will also work with patients and health-care providers to establish information requirements for people with diabetes regarding diabetes-related sight loss and develop appropriate patient education resources on diabetic retinopathy,” says Nagpal.
Ryan Hooey is a dedicated advocate who lost his sight due to DR and sees how advances in treatment have made his life better and now puts energy into advocating for policy and technology enhancements that will benefit all Canadians with diabetes and those who have lost their sight. “I’m excited about the possibility of research findings that could help prevent retinopathy and vision loss in people with diabetes, and even prevent diabetes altogether,” says Hooey.
May is Vision Health Month and Diabetes Canada has developed a new education video to help answer questions about vision health and sight loss for those living with diabetes.
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