Diabetes Awareness Month reminds Canadians to take action with regular eye care to avoid vision loss
Tuesday November 9, 2021
Annual eye exams can save eyesight for people living with diabetes
TORONTO, Nov. 9, 2021 /CNW/ – Nearly 11.5 million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, which can lead to various complications including vision loss. One of the leading causes of blindness among Canadians is diabetic retinopathy (DR), and according to a recent survey by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, 76 per cent of Canadians are unfamiliar with this eye disease. To help spread awareness during Diabetes Awareness Month – and to mark this year’s 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin – the Canadian Ophthalmological Society has partnered with Diabetes Canada once again to highlight the importance of regular eye care for preventing vision loss.
Over time, diabetes can damage blood vessels in the retina, causing DR – one of the four major eye diseases – and can have various stages and degrees of severity. Most symptoms don’t arise until it’s very advanced and difficult to treat, however to prevent progression of DR, people with diabetes should monitor and manage their levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. It is also important to maintain annual checkups, as early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by 95 per cent, according to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society.
“One in three Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, which means they are at risk of getting diabetic retinopathy,” says Dr. Colin Mann, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. “Losing your eyesight can dramatically affect your quality of life so to help prevent it from coming to that, we encourage Canadians living with diabetes to book an annual eye exam with an ophthalmologist who can help detect the disease early, and provide treatment geared to the specific type of retinal changes diagnosed.”
The theme of Diabetes Canada’s Diabetes Awareness Month campaign is “Take Action to End Diabetes”. For the month of November, the goal is to reach 100,000 actions, which can be done by assessing your risks, learning how to live well with diabetes – which can include visiting your ophthalmologist, donating to support research, and more.
“Our campaign highlights that collective, individual action will continue to drive progress and move us forward to ending diabetes,” says Laura Syron, President and CEO of Diabetes Canada. “The discovery of insulin 100 years ago was revolutionary, and we have come a long way since then, but there is still no cure. Diabetes Awareness Month reminds us of the importance of educating ourselves, spreading awareness and taking action, as every action brings us closer to a future without diabetes.”
You can significantly lower your risk of vision loss by consistently keeping your blood sugar within your specified target range and visiting your ophthalmologist regularly. Due to the pandemic, 33 per cent of Canadians are concerned with their overall eye health because of delayed or cancelled visits to an eye care professional over the past year. Here are few ways to avoid DR if you have diabetes:
- Keep your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol within your specified target ranges
- Follow your diabetes regime set by you and your healthcare team, and discuss the barriers that exist so you can find a way to best care for yourself
- Visit your ophthalmologist and book an eye exam every year, as early detection is the best way to prevent vision loss
Visit seethepossibilities.ca to learn more about eye health and diabetic retinopathy, including its causes, risks and treatment.
About Canadian Ophthalmological Society
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit cos-sco.ca.
Diabetes is a disease in which your body either can’t produce insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it produces. It is a complex disease with multiple causes and no known cure.
- Type 1 diabetes is found in five to 10 per cent of Canadians with diabetes and occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin, a hormone that controls the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common, where the pancreas either cannot effectively use or produce enough insulin. It is found in approximately 90-95 per cent of Canadians living with diabetes. The causes of type 2 diabetes can be genetic, behavioural and/or environmental. People of Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic or African descent are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Pre-diabetes occurs when an individual’s blood glucose levels are high, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 50 per cent of those with pre-diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes.
About Diabetes Canada
Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:
- Resources for health-care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
- Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
- Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.
For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).
For further information: Bojana Duric, [email protected], 289.981.7710, BlueSky Communications; For media and interview inquiries: Pilar Iglesias, National Communications Manager, Diabetes Canada, [email protected].
SOURCE Canadian Ophthalmological Society