Diabetics urged to get eyes checked
Monday is World Diabetes Day, and health experts are scrambling to warn diabetics of the greater risk they face of becoming blind.
Diabetics are at risk of complications from the condition that can lead to blindness, as well as kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.
But Steve Crew from Diabetes New Zealand says not enough diabetics are aware of sight-related risks.
"People in the general population living with diabetes are about 25 times greater [at risk] of having vision impairment than people not having diabetes, so it's a serious concern," he says.
"Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. Everyone living with diabetes is at risk, so if diabetes is not treated or managed, it can cause diabetes retinopathy, which essentially is damaging the blood vessels of the eye."
Mr Crew is urging diabetics to lead healthy lifestyles and get their eyes checked regularly.
"The International Diabetes Federation says about one in three people with diabetes will have some form of retinopathy, and so there are 260,000 people living with diabetes in New Zealand, so one could extrapolate that to be about 90,000 people in New Zealand."
Mr Crew says diabetes can also lead to kidney failure, cardiovascular disease and result in limb amputations.