The Growing Threat of Diabetic Eye Disease

Too many Australians have closed their eyes to diabetic eye disease, the leading cause of blindness among our working-age population, a new study has revealed.

A YouGov poll conducted early last year of 1,049 Australians commissioned by Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) discovered that only 29% of Australians aged 50 to 70 have heard of diabetic retinopathy (DR), while only 26% are aware of diabetic macular oedema (DMO), a complication of DR that threatens the central vision.

Although 82% identified the eyes as a body part that diabetes can affect – higher than feet (74%), kidneys (68%), and even the heart (53%) – the lack of awareness of what these conditions are called means many people who are at risk remain in the dark about these sight-threatening complications.

Macula Month

MDFA commissioned this study to mark ‘Macula Month’, an annual awareness campaign each May, urging those at-risk to visit their optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam – including a check of the macula.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease (DED) are the most common conditions that threaten the macula and detailed central vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and the top cause of blindness in working-age Australians, affecting between 300,000 and 400,000 people.

MDFA CEO Dee Hopkins is concerned that most people cannot even name the disease.

“Diabetic retinopathy claims the eyesight of more working-age Australians than any other eye condition, yet less than 30% of people know its name,” Ms Hopkins says.

“But we do know that early action can save sight. It’s crucial that everyone over 50 – and everyone diagnosed with diabetes – has regular eye checks with their eye health professional to detect any changes to the eye early.”

60 seconds Could Save Your Sight

This year’s Macula Month campaign will promote Check My Macula a short 60 second online quiz that reveals your individual risk factors for AMD and diabetic eye disease. It then helps you make an appointment with your nearest optometrist or schedule a reminder to have an eye exam in the future.

Everyone with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, and the longer a person has diabetes, the greater the likelihood of the disease.

Diabetic Retinopathy Numbers Surge

Around 1.7 million Australians live with diabetes – a figure expected to climb past two million by 2025, driving a surge in diabetic eye disease.

Almost everyone with type 1 diabetes and more than 60% of people with type 2 diabetes will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy within 20 years of diagnosis. One in three people over the age of 50 with diabetes has the condition.

MDFA Ambassador and 2020 Australian of the Year, Adelaide ophthalmologist Dr James Muecke AM, says people with diabetes can take active steps to reverse their risk of vision loss.

“Diabetic retinopathy is the only reversible macular condition,” Dr Muecke says.

“If you control your diabetes, or if you are able to put your type 2 diabetes into remission, you can turn this blinding disease around. We want people to not only understand the name of the disease –we want everyone to take action to avoid its devastating outcome.

“This is easily done through regular eye examinations and managing your diabetes. When the disease is picked up early, you can make lifestyle changes and access good treatments that maintain sight and prevent severe vision loss,” he says.

Book an eye test with your local Eyecare Plus optometrist this Macula Month to have a comprehensive eye test and to check your macula.

Children Vision: Balancing Screen Time and Green Time

One of the most common questions parents ask of their optometrist is, “how much screen time is too much for children?”

When Optometry Australia surveyed parents about their children and screen time they discovered that 44 per cent of Australian parents are worried about the effects of screen time on children’s eyesight whilst nearly 75% believe that too much screen time can damage our vision.

Today, nearly 25 percent of school children have a vision problem significant enough to impact their learning.

Your child’s eyes are critical to both their learning and development. Most of their learning comes from what they see, so it is important that they understand how to look after their eyes.

One of more tangible areas we can help look after the eyes of our children is with screen time.

Too much screen time has an impact on children’s eyes and has been associated with vision problems such as eye strain (sore eyes) and myopia (short-sightedness). Not only this, it also contributes to poor physical, social and intellectual development.

Green Time

Whilst screen time has become a way of life for most school aged children, it is important for their development that they have the right balance between screen time and green (outdoor) time.

Australian research shows that increased exposure to outdoor light will help reduce the early onset of myopia in children, whilst a study from overseas confirmed that time outdoor in natural light can slow the progression of myopia.

Myopia (short-sightedness) is growing rapidly among children and predicted to reach epidemic proportions with half the world’s population forecast to be impacted by 2050.

It becomes a greater problem the longer children spend in front of their screens, reducing the time they spend outside.

Research indicates that being outdoors in natural light for less than an hour a day can increase the risk of myopia; whilst for those with myopia, if they increase time outdoors myopia progression can be reduced.

Therefore, it is important that whenever a child is using a screen, they need to have a proportionate amount of green time.

To help prevent myopia from developing and progressing, it is recommended that children should spend one to two hours a day outside.

It is important for a child’s health, learning and emotional development to help them find the right balance between screen time and green time. To do this, follow three simple digital device tips for better eye and general health.

Top 3 Digital Device Tips

  1. Screen Time: Monitor and Reduce

It is recommended that school-aged children limit sedentary leisure screen time to two (2) hours per day. For children under five years of age it should be under one hour per day.

  1. Green Time: Outdoor Fun

Balance your child’s screen time by encouraging them to spend more than one, preferably two hours a day (or at least 11 hours per week) doing activities outdoors, having fun!

  1. 20-20-20 Rule

To help restore some life balance and limit the large amount of exposure children have to their screens apply the 20-20-20 rule.

Every 20 minutes your child spends looking at a screen, ask them to look at an object in the distance, 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. This is a simple eye exercise that will give their eyes a much needed break.

Green time is both available and beneficial for all children. We need to encourage our kids to put their screen down after 20 minutes and look into the distance for a count of 20, or better still head outside and enjoy fun unstructured outdoor activities.

Glaucoma: Advocate for Yourself

The World Health Organization (WHO)’s World Report on Vision states that there are currently 76 million people around the world living with glaucoma.

In Australia, 300,000 people have the disease, however due to glaucoma having little to no symptoms, 50% are unaware that they have glaucoma.

“This is an alarming statistic,“ says Paul Folkesson, president of the World Council of Optometry.

“As we look at this growing problem, we need to ask ourselves in what ways can we realistically address this issue.”

Aside from optometrists working closely with ophthalmologists to bring patient centred care to the forefront of glaucoma treatment, he believes it is important for patients to take an active role to “advocate for themselves”.

How to Advocate for Yourself

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world, so one way to get on the front foot with the disease is to first check if family members have it as people with a family history of glaucoma are more at risk of getting the disease.

If you have a family history of glaucoma you should start seeing your optometrist for a full eye examination from the age of 40. For those who do not have a family history you should have an eye examination every two years from the age of 50.

“Three in one hundred Australians will develop glaucoma in their lifetime,” says CEO of Glaucoma Australia Annie Gibbins, “yet more than a third (35%) have not undergone regular eye examinations, thereby increasing their risk of glaucoma remaining undiagnosed. We need this to change.”

To help change this statistic you can be an advocate for your own eye health.

You can do this by checking this list to see if you are in a high risk category. If you are then you should book an appointment with your optometrist to check for the early signs of glaucoma:

  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Have high eye pressure
  • Are aged over 50
  • Are of African or Asian descent
  • Have diabetes
  • Are short or long sighted
  • Have been on a prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication
  • Experience migraines
  • Have had an eye operation or eye injury
  • Have a history of high or low blood pressure

Glaucoma can affect anyone.

Kirk’s Story

At the age of 29, Kirk Pengelly, guitarist, saxophonist and founding member of INXS, was diagnosed with glaucoma.

“When I got glaucoma it really hit home at how lucky I was to not lose my sight,” says Kirk Pengilly.

“An eye test is quick and painless and could be the difference between losing your vision, or not. Just as you go to the dentist or doctor for a check-up, you need to put an eye exam on your things-to-do list – particularly those over 50 like me. Use this World Glaucoma Week as a cue to book and treat your eyes to a simple test.”

Treat Your Eyes

During World Glaucoma Week, Glaucoma Australia has launched the Treat Your Eyes campaign to help spark Australians into action to get their eyes tested.

A simple eye test is critical in the early detection and intervention of the disease in order to help save your eyesight.

Advocate for yourself by going online to book an eye examination today with your local Eyecare Plus optometrist, particularly if you have any of the early warning signs of glaucoma.

The Silent Thief of Sight

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. It affects 300,000 Australians, with 50% of people unaware that they have the disease because they haven’t had a comprehensive eye exam.

Known as the ‘silent thief of sight’, glaucoma develops slowly for most people, and a considerable amount of peripheral vision may be lost before the problem becomes apparent.

There is no cure for glaucoma and vision loss is irreversible but early detection and treatment can save your sight.

One of the strongest messages around glaucoma is early detection and family history.

Veronica’s Story

Blue Mountains based Veronica Dooley is one of the 3% of Australians over the age of 50 who has glaucoma.

Veronica was diagnosed more than 32 years ago at the age of 60. She is one of four siblings, three of whom have also suffered from glaucoma.

She still recalls being shocked by the diagnosis.

“I mentioned to my daughter that I was having some issues with my sight, so I booked an appointment to get my eyes checked with the specialist.

“I’ll never forget that moment when the doctor said to me, ‘You are going blind’. From that moment on I have done everything in my power to follow the instructions given to me by my doctors and I have followed my treatment plan religiously.”

Veronica’s treatment plan has involved eye drops on a weekly basis for the last three decades. It has preserved sight in her right eye while her left eye continues to be closely managed.

As a result of her commitment to her treatment plan Veronica is able to live on her own and enjoy an independent life. She catches the bus to go shopping every fortnight after voluntarily giving up her driver’s licence when she suddenly started to lose sight of the lines in the middle of the road.

“I walked straight into the registry and handed in my licence,” she says. “It was hard but I have been able to hold onto my remaining sight and maintain my independence thanks to the dedication of my doctors and my determination to follow my treatment plan. I’m a big believer if something has to be done, then get it done.”

Family History

Veronica recalls that her brother had “an aggressive form of glaucoma” whereas her sisters, “like me, are managing their glaucoma”.

“We are unaware if there was glaucoma in our family as back then there wasn’t the testing facilities available that we have today, and health issues were kept private. But that’s not the case today, so ask your family if anyone has glaucoma, as it is hereditary, and early detection is key,” adds Veronica.

Glaucoma Awareness Campaign

Veronica hopes Glaucoma Australia’s new campaign, Treat Yours Eyes, will help to educate Australians about the importance of having an eye exam this World Glaucoma Week (7–13 March 2021), because it could be the difference between losing your vision, or keeping it for life.

“Early detection is key. I was so stunned by my glaucoma diagnosis. I had no signs before, and absolutely no pain. Get in early and have an eye exam so you can live the rest of your life normally and hold onto your independence. You can’t undo the damage once it’s occurred,” says Veronica.

Glaucoma Australia recommends that anyone over 50 should visit their local optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination every two years, and if you have a family history of glaucoma check-ups should begin from 40.

To find out more about glaucoma book an appointment with your local Eyecare Plus optometrist or contact Glaucoma Australia.

Reminder: Adult Eye Health Check

It has been just over a year since Australia identified its first case of the deadly coronavirus which at the time was responsible for 41 deaths from 1,320 cases reported globally. Now, a year later, deaths are soaring past 2.5 million.

It is an understatement that life has changed dramatically over this time with most of us making significant adjustments to how we live with the disease.

Eye Test Cancellations

Many people, particularly the elderly, have put off having an eye test because of fears or concerns about the safety of having an eye test. As a vulnerable group, the fear of contracting COVID-19 is very real.

During FY 19-20 optometrists provided 630,000 less consultations (7% decrease) than the year before. Alarmingly there was a drop of 20% for low vision consultations, the group most in need of eye healthcare.

As a result, optometry groups are concerned that if left untreated there could be a significant increase in the number of people who may possibly lose their sight, particularly those with vision-threatening conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy.

If treated, approximately 90 per cent of blindness or vision impairment is preventable.

It is important that people who have these debilitating conditions keep their eye health appointments as they require constant follow-up and monitoring. It is vital that regular eye examinations are maintained to prevent any vision loss.

Optometrist Hygiene Protocols

Optometry as a profession understands the concerns patients have about COVID-19 and have put in place protocols to protect patients.

These safety protocols, outlined by Optometry Australia for their members to use in practice, include:

  1. Observing the ‘Five Moments of Hand Hygiene’ before touching a patient, before and after a procedure, after touching a patient and their surroundings.
  2. Greeting patients with a wave instead of a handshake.
  3. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces between each appointment with an alcohol wipe or a pre-mixed alcohol/bleach solution.
  4. Remaining 1.5m from patients whilst taking a patient history and speaking with a patient
  5. Using slit lamp shields to reduce potential droplet transmission.

Furthermore, optical dispensing and other practice staff use alcohol wipes to clean all rulers, pupilometers, pen torches and other equipment before and after patient consultations. When patients try on frames they are separated and cleaned with an alcohol based solution.

Immediate Appointments Needed

You should see your optometrist immediately if:

  • your eyes are sore, swollen, or red
  • your eyes are unusually sensitive to light or glare
  • you feel sudden or severe eye pain
  • you experience sudden vision loss
  • there is a green or yellow discharge from your eyes

Our eyesight plays a major role in our lives, a fact that cannot be neglected. It is important that we look after them to maintain proper eye health.

Book an Eye Test Today

Book an eye test today to see your local Eyecare Plus optometrist, particularly if you have macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy.

The Importance of Kids Eye Tests

Good vision is critical to your child’s development and performance at school.

According to Optometry Australia’s 2020 Vision Index report, almost 80% of Australian parents believe their children have great eyesight, however, alarmingly, nearly 32% of parents have never taken their child to an optometrist for an eye test.

Of the 68% of children who have had their eyes examined by an optometrist, 35% have required prescription glasses.

Optometry Australia is urging parents to take their children to have their eyes tested regularly and certainly at least before they start back to school.

“The first test of the year should be an eye test,” says Luke Arundel, Chief Clinical Officer, Optometry Australia.

One in five children will be going back to school with undetected vision problems which can affect their ability to learn, problems which can easily be picked up by your local optometrist.

Early Intervention

Having an eye test at the beginning of the school year is crucial in being able to uncover eye problems early, well before your child mentions that the words in their book look blurry or they cannot see the school board.

An optometrist can test, diagnose, and manage any visual dysfunction that may co-exist with a child’s learning difficulty diagnosis. Vision, either poor sight or poor efficiency in skills, may affect a child’s cognitive ability and interfere with their learning.

Without knowing, your child could be struggling with vision problems which can impact their ability to read, their speed of reading, fluency, concentration, and comprehension well before you know they have a problem. Early intervention by your local optometrist is important in helping them remove this significant obstacle to their learning.

Vision problems such as poor focusing, poor eye teaming, poor eye tracking and uncorrected refractive error (one of the leading causes of amblyopia or lazy eye) can interfere with learning and potentially result in in poor school performance.

Whilst vision problems may not always be the direct cause of learning disorders, they can have an impact on your child’s ability to perform to their potential. Students with learning challenges may require a multidisciplinary approach from a team of people including teaching staff and health care professionals.

Warning Signs Of Child Vision Problems

How do you know if your child has good or poor vision?

 There are some important signs of possible vision problems in your child that parents should look out for, including:

  • Difficulty reading, such as skipping and confusing words or using their finger when reading
  • Holding a book very close or sitting too close to the television
  • Tilting or turning their head to one side when looking at something
  • Complaints of headaches and blurred or double vision
  • Squinting, or having difficulty recognising things or people in the distance
  • Difficulty focusing on a moving object such as a ball being thrown in their direction
  • Eyes turning inwards, outwards, or sidewards

It can be hard to tell if your child has good or poor vision especially when they are very young and nonverbal.

It is important to not assume that your child has good distance and near vision. Your optometrist can do age appropriate vision tests for your child so they can diagnose ocular health problems, refractive errors, and/or binocular dysfunctions early.

Screen Time

As extended near work on digital devices have been associated with eye strain (sore eyes) and myopia (short-sightedness) a common question asked by parents is how much screen time is appropriate for children.

You can break it down into two simple guidelines:

  • Monitor and Reduce screen time: it is recommended that school-aged children spend less than two hours per day of leisure screen time
  • Spend 11 plus hours per week doing outdoors activities: Balance the child’s activities with lots of outdoor sport such as soccer, cycling, walking, etc
Regular Kids Eye Tests

A comprehensive eye test by an optometrist will assess visual efficiency skills which can have a direct impact on learning and your child’s potential in the classroom.

Kids will often not complain about vision problems because they will feel that that what they are living with is normal. By getting their eyes checked you will be able to discover a problem if one exists well before it becomes a bigger problem.

No child is too young to get their first eye test!

Contact your local Eyecare Plus optometrist to book an eye test for your child at the start of the school year. A Medicare rebate is available for all infants and children.

 

Thank you to Dr SooJin Nam for her direction and input with this article.

Dr SooJin Nam has a special interest in children’s vision, myopia control and learning difficulties, in particular, the impact vision has on learning and concentration. She understands the concerns parents have when told that their child has poor vision. She understands that selecting the first pair of spectacles for your kids can be a daunting experience. Dr Nam and her practices have been the recipient of many business awards over the years.

The Diabetes Epidemic

Diabetes is regarded as the biggest health epidemic of the modern era.

More than 20 years ago, in 1994, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s declared that diabetes had reached epidemic proportions. Get the latest research information from CDC here.

They reported then that it should be considered a major public health problem. Now, more than 20 years later, diabetes is raging out of control with the incidence of type 2 Diabetes more than tripling in that time.

Tragic Experience

In Australia, our First Nation People are at the greatest risk as they are “four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and much more likely to develop serious diabetes-related complications. The gap in health outcomes for indigenous Australians is greatest in diabetes,” Professor Greg Johnson, CEO Diabetes Australia.

Wiradjuri woman Dr Tamara Power, member of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Nurses and Midwives working at the University of Technology Sydney, is one of Australia’s leading First Nations nurse academics.

Her experience with diabetes has been tragic.

“A pregnant cousin of mine, who lives with type 2 diabetes, gave birth to a full-term, stillborn baby and that was partly due to complications from high blood glucose levels during pregnancy,” Dr Power said.

“I have many family members and friends who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and are living with severe complications like cardiac and renal disease. As a First Nations person you generally know a lot of people with diabetes, that’s the reality of the diabetes epidemic.”

Type 2 diabetes: Leading Cause of Blindness

Eye surgeon and Australian of the Year, Dr. James Muecke, blames poor dietary guidelines which recommend low fat, high carb diets, as key reasons for Australia’s obesity problem – which effects 67% of Australians – and can lead to type 2 diabetes.

If obesity is eradicated we can reduce the number of people who get type 2 diabetes by over 40%.

Type 2 diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the world.

Diabetic Retinopathy

A complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, the most widespread form of diabetic eye disease which can lead to vision loss. It is estimated that between 25 to 35% of people who have diabetes suffer from some form of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is an insidious disease. High sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina which, over time, leads to vision loss.

Detection

There may be no obvious symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

The only way you can find out if you have diabetic retinopathy is from a comprehensive eye examination. It is a simple test where the optometrist dilates your pupils in order to see details inside your eyes.

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms include:

  • Blurred, distorted or patchy vision (that cannot be corrected with prescription glasses)
  • Problems with balance, reading, watching television, and recognising people
  • Being overly sensitive to glare
  • Difficulty seeing at night

Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is critical in order for the disease to be treated. By doing this you can reduce the incidence of severe vision loss by 95 percent.

Diabetes can cause serious health problems. It is important that people who live with diabetes see their local Eyecare Plus optometrist every year for a comprehensive eye test so that diabetic retinopathy can be identified and treated early.

Summer Eye Protection

Sunglasses are an essential part of any wardrobe, particularly in summer.

Invented in China in the 12th century sunglasses moved into the mainstream during the ‘roaring 20s’ when actors wore them for eye protection from the bright klieg lights on movie sets and to shield their identity when out in public. Initially they were considered a fad but as they became more embedded into popular culture, sales of sunglasses soared.

Today, no wardrobe is complete without a pair of stylish sunnies.

Aside from cutting out glare and being fashionable, there are many other important reasons to wear sunglasses.

Preventing Eye Injuries and Serious Eye Problems

Most of us understand the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect our eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation but constant exposure to UV rays can cause some serious eye problems including cataracts, pterygiums, photokeratitis, macular degeneration, cancer of the conjunctiva and skin cancer of the eyelids.

In Australia, we are more prone than other countries to sun damage.

Eyelid Protection

Because Australia is close to the equator, has a high proportion of clear blue skies and low pollution, we have the highest levels of UV radiation in the world and, as a result, one of the highest rates of skin cancer.

UV levels cannot be felt on your skin. They are not connected to temperature, can be dangerous on cold or hot days and are highest in the middle of the day from 10am and 2pm (or 11am and 3pm during daylight saving).

 Whilst our eyes are sensitive to UV so too is the skin around our eyes, with the upper and lower eyelids vulnerable to skin cancers.

Wearing UV-protective wraparound sunglasses with large lenses can not only protect your eyes, but they will protect the skin around your eyes as well. They serve to block out light and glare from the side, as well as the front.

Selecting the Right Sunglasses

When you buy a pair of sunglasses in Australia, they need to have a mandatory classification labelled and tested according to the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1067.1:2016.

Specifically, the best rating for sunglasses that provide eye protection from UV rays are rated with a lens category of 2 (medium protection) or 3 (highest protection).

The sunglasses safety standards are set out in the Consumer Goods (Sunglasses and Fashion Spectacles) Safety Standard legislation.

Sunglass Classifications

  • Lens category 0: Fashion spectacles. These are not sunglasses and have a very low ability to reduce sun glare. They glasses provide little or no UV protection.
  • Lens category 1: Fashion spectacles. These too are not sunglasses. They provide limited sun glare reduction and some UV protection, but it is minimal.
  • Lens category 2: Sunglasses. This is the minimum eye protection from the sun. These sunglasses provide medium level sun glare reduction and good UV protection.
  • Lens category 3: Sunglasses. These are the sunglasses you want to look out for. Level 3 sunglasses provide a high level of sun glare reduction and good level of UV protection.
  • Lens category 4: Sunglasses. These are special-purpose sunglasses which provide a very high level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection. These glasses should not be worn while driving.

These standards not only refer to fashion sunglasses but to all framed or rimless sunglasses, clip-ons or slip-ons, children’s sunglasses, and light tint sunglasses.

Your local Eyecare Plus optometrist has a very good understanding of what type of eyewear are best to suit your needs.

Use it or Lose it

Fewer Australians have been getting their eyes tested this year.

According to Medicare there has been a significant drop in the number of people seeing their optometrist.

Optometry consultations have dropped by 7% due to COVID. And, alarmingly, amongst some of the most vulnerable people who need eye health assistance, low vision consultations are down by 20%.

These drops in eye health care are concerning to Optometry Australia, the peak optometry group in Australia.

Patients have been putting off important eye health appointments until after COVID but as lockdowns around the country have continued to drag on, by putting optometry appointments on hold people have been placing their eye health at risk.

Whilst many eye conditions have subtle symptoms, the seriousness of a potentially vision threatening disease can only be seen during an eye examination.

Any changes to your vision need to be discussed with your optometrist.

Use Your Health Cover

If you haven’t seen your optometrist this year, and you are one of the nearly 50% of people who have private health cover, you have an even greater incentive to get your eyes checked as majority of private health fund benefits may expire at the end of December.

You have been paying premiums all year, so take advantage of the benefits your health fund makes available to you. Now is a best time to focus on your eye health and take advantage of your optical benefits.

Health funds do not allow us to roll over our benefits each year. Once 1 January rolls around the benefits that you did not use the year before will lapse.

It is important to have your eyes checked every two years because your prescription can change. And, as we get older our eyes are prone to eye conditions such as presbyopia, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. The earlier these conditions are found, the more expedient the treatment.

See Clearer

If you have not had your script checked in a while you will be surprised to discover how much lens technology has improved. Today, lenses are much thinner and lighter with a wide choice of lens coatings.

Lenses not only help you see the world more clearly, but they can also be personalised to your individual needs. Aside from being thinner and lighter they come with anti-reflective and scratch resistant coatings. They can reduce the effect of harmful UV rays, block out blue light glare from computer screens and photochromic lenses can transition from clear to dark when you walk outside.

How to Use Your Rebate

There are many ways to use your health fund rebate.

Who doesn’t need a spare pair of reading glasses at home! Now is the best time to get that extra pair so that you don’t spend another afternoon turning the loungeroom upside down looking for your reading glasses.

What about a pair of prescription glasses for sport? What about contact lenses? If you have yet to try on a pair of contact lenses now is a good time. Did you know that you can try a trial set of contact lenses at no charge?

There are many eye health services and ‘no gap’ frames you can claim on your private health insurance.

As Covid restrictions to the number of people allowed inside a practice may still apply in some states it is important to call first to book an appointment with your local Eyecare Plus optometrist.

All health funds are welcome at all Eyecare Plus optometry practices. Book an appointment today.

The Avoidable Blindness

World Diabetes Day is celebrated on 14 November each year. This year, WDD honours the role of nurses who work with people living with diabetes.

Around the world nurses account for more than half of the health workforce. People with diabetes benefit enormously from the education and support they receive from nurses and other health care workers, including optometrists, in managing the impact of this debilitating disease.

Cost of Diabetes

In Australia, it is estimated that 1.8 million people live with diabetes, with 1.3 million diagnosed and an estimated 500,000 undiagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Every five minutes in Australia someone is diagnosed with diabetes, and a staggering 25 per cent of adults over the age of 25 are living with either diabetes or pre-diabetes.

The disease accounts for more than 10 per cent of all Australian deaths, making it the seventh most common cause of death by disease in Australia.

Enough is Enough

Dr. James Muecke, Australian of the Year and ophthalmologist has declared war on diabetes.

This deadly disease is now the leading cause of blindness in Australian adults.

Dr. Muecke has had enough.

Every year, Dr. Muecke sees an increasing number of patients with eye disease due to diabetes.

It is upsetting to see so many people suffering from the disease particularly as “type 2 diabetes is a preventable, dietary disease,” he says.

“We should not be seeing these blinding, maiming and deadly consequences at all. It’s time to put a stop to it.”

Sugar is Toxic

To reduce the impact of diabetes, Dr. Muecke says we need to go back to the root cause of the disease to “challenge our perception of sugar, our relationship with sugar and the impact it has on the development of diabetes. I want to encourage hard hitting strategies to build greater awareness of the detrimental role sugar plays in our society.”

“Sugar is as toxic and addictive as nicotine.”

By reducing our consumption of “sugar, refined carbohydrates, and highly processed products containing these substances (we) can prevent type 2 diabetes. It’s proven and powerful.”

Through diet and early detection of diabetic eye disease, loss of vision from diabetes can be prevented. Sadly, once vision has been lost it cannot be reversed.

Early detection, by having a regular eye examination is the best way to identify problems before they get worse, and to ensure early treatment.

Diabetes causes far too many Australians to lose their sight each year, but this can be avoided by cutting out sugar from your diet and by having regular eye tests.

Surprisingly, Dr Muecke says that of the 1.8 million people in Australia who have any type of diabetes, “less than half are having their regular eye checks, which is why it’s become such a major cause of blindness in our society.”

If you have diabetes, to avoid diabetic retinopathy, it is important to be proactive about booking an annual appointment to see your local Eyecare Plus Optometrists.