Queen's Belfast News Release


12th November, 2010

Charity encourages regular eye tests to prevent sight loss from diabetes

Charity encourages regular eye tests to prevent sight loss from diabetes Ahead of World Diabetes Day on Sunday 14 November, leading eye research charity Fight for Sight is urging people with diabetes to have regular eye tests to check for signs of diabetic eye disease.

Fight for Sight funds a number of research projects at the Centre for Vision and Vascular Science at Queen's University Belfast, looking at ways to prevent diabetic retinopathy.

Fight for Sight Research Officer, Dr Dolores Conroy, says: "Regular eye tests and screening can detect the early signs of diabetic eye disease - a complication of diabetes which, if left untreated, can lead to sight loss.

"World Diabetes Day is an opportunity to remind people of the importance of regular eye tests especially those at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and other diabetic eye disease.”

There are 2.8 million people in the UK diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes, is the leading cause of sight loss among working age people in the UK. Although many people don’t show symptoms in the early stages of the disease, it can cause blood vessels in the retina to weaken and break leading to bleeding and potential scarring in the retina.

As the disease progresses, new blood vessels continue to grow and break causing scar tissue to develop on the retina. Without treatment, it can lead to loss of vision and to other eye conditions including retinal detachment and glaucoma. 

Over the last year, Fight for Sight has committed funding to a number of research projects at the Centre for Vision and Vascular Science at Queen's School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science.

Professor Graham McGeown and Dr Tim Curtis are investigating the effects of diabetes on sight including the disruption of blood flow to the retina; Dr Reinhold Medina Benavente is looking at a potential new cell-replacement therapy which can be used to halt the progression of diabetic retinopathy by replacing damaged blood vessels; and, based on recent findings linking inflammation to the progression of diabetic retinopathy, Professor Alan Stitt is investigating the causes of inflammation which can damage the retina in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy.

“Fight for Sight is funding ongoing research into the prevention of diabetic retinopathy but at the moment, early detection is still the best way to prevent sight loss from this and other diabetic eye diseases."

Fight for Sight is urging people to talk to their doctor or optician about eye tests and screening to detect diabetic eye disease. A screening programme launched by the NHS in 2005 offers free screening for everyone with diabetes aged 12 years and over.

For more information about Fight for Sight see www.fightforsight.org.uk
For more information about World Diabetes Day, visit www.worlddiabetesday.org


For more information call Louise Elliott, Fight for Sight, 020 7929 7755 or the visit website: www.fightforsight.org.uk

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