Last week was an exciting one for staff and friends of Vision2020Australia and DA–Vic. In the lead up to World Sight Day last Thursday (October 11th), they announced a collaborative project at the Seniors’ Festival, held at Fed Square over the weekend.I was invited along to this momentous occasion as a case study, which meant I was there to represent individuals with type 2 diabetes and share my story. It was incredibly exciting and I was extremely nervous as this was possibly the largest media event that I’ve attended. Furthermore, I was a chance to meet people such as the Victorian Minister for Health! It’s not everyday that you get to have a chat with a minister!
Anyway, more on the project. This new three year project aims to raise awareness of the impact of diabetes on eye health by a encouraging newly diagnosed type 2 adults (18 years and over) to get their eyes tested upon diagnosis. At the same time, the program aims to provide more information about the relationship between diabetes and retinopathy. Having long periods of high blood glucose levels are known to damage the nerves at the back of the eyes. The scariest thing about this is the fact that there are often no symptoms in the early stages of nerve damage in the eyes. This is why it’s so important for routine visits to the optometrists to check the back of your eyes, for it’s always better to be safe than be sorry. Another scary statistic is that 75% of vision loss is either preventable or treatable! And with diabetes related retinopathy being the leading cause of vision loss in Australia, the solution seems fairly clear – go get your eyes tested regularly!
Being a young adult (pretty sure my mental age is less than that, but anyway) with terrible short-sightedness, the fear of losing my sight completely has been instilled into me since I was in primary school. At the moment, without my glasses or contacts, the most I can make out are blurry shapes and colours. The fact that I’m practically already half blind not only terrifies me, but to add on the stress of dealing with diabetes AND its complications?! Some days, it gets overwhelming. Some days I still have that notion of being “untouchable” by complications (sort of like when I thought that I wouldn’t have to worry about diabetes until I’m older). However, I have to say, I feel much more confident about my health now than before I knew I had diabetes. Why? Because I have never been so conscious of what I eat, how much exercise I’m doing, and having to keep track of all my medical check-ups. Even though I’m confident that I will get the all-clear by my optometrists or podiatrists or endocrinologists (a lot of -ogists there!), I live by the saying that “no news is good news”. Also, by making sure my sugars are in range majority of the time, I know I can help to reduce the risk of diabetes related complications later on in life. And that’s how I would like it to stay for a long time if I can help it.
Ashley Ng, of Caufield, is 22 years young. She is currently halfway through her honours year at Deakin University looking at the effects of nutritional supplementation in the healing of diabetic foot ulcers. Ashley also works at the university as an academic support worker and student ambassador on the side. In her spare time (of which she has little) she enjoys driving out to national parks for walks and taking part in a variety of sports. She also plays clarinet in the Western Region Concert Band. Ashley was diagnosed with type 2 (MODY) diabetes in 2009.
Oh, and did we mention her own rocking blog?
Further information about diabetes and your eyes:
Media release - Growth of diabetes puts eyesight of half a million Victorians at risk say experts (PDF)
Diabetes Australia –Vic - Eye health and diabetic retinopathy
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