I have returned to work, and while I was away, there were two important campaigns in July that I need to tell you about, JulEYE and Diabetes awareness Week.

JulEYE reminds all people to have regular eye tests, at least every two years, as 75% of cases of vision loss are preventable with early detection and treatment. Many people fail to check their eyes regularly, as almost half of Australians believe that they don’t have any problems with their vision, or don’t feel that eye tests are a health priority. As a result, vision loss continues to be a major and overlooked health issue. The major causes of vision loss include glaucoma, macula degeneration, diabetic eye disease and cataract. JulEYE also reminds us to take care of our children’s eyes, as there are around 1600 children in Australia each year that are diagnosed with significant visual impairment. Kids often can’t can’t tell if their vision is impaired, and without treatment, these kids will continue through life being affected by poor eyesight.

Diabetes is a major health issue, with around one million Australians diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and even more people classed as pre-diabetic. It is a disease that causes damage to blood vessels and nerves, creating long term health problems that affect the feet, kidneys and heart, as well as eye health. Diabetic retinopathy is the major cause of vision loss in adults aged 20 to 74 years. It is vital that people with diabetes carefully manage their health, including regular eye tests to ensure early detection and effective treatment of diabetic eye disease. More than 90% of diabetes related vision loss is preventable by early treatment. Unfortunately, almost 40% of people with diabetes fail to get their eyes tested regularly. Diabetic retinopathy often has no warning signs and can advance with vision feeling normal. By the time a person notices that their vision has been affected, permanent damage has occurred. A full eye examination, done through dilated pupils, needs to be done at least every two years, and even more frequently if there are any signs of diabetic eye disease present.

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