08/09/2011 09:30 BST | Updated 07/11/2011 10:12 GMT

Diabetics Should Get Eyes Tested, Says Charity

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Half a million people with diabetes in England are at risk of blindness because they do not get proper checks, a charity has warned.

Retinal screening, which is carried out annually, tests for eye disease in diabetics known as diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among the country's working-age population. While the number of people at risk of blindness has dropped from around three-quarters of a million in 2008, the charity Diabetes UK says people are still not getting proper checks.

Those with the condition must ensure they are receiving 15 key services to help them keep healthy, it added.

In the UK, there are 2.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes and an estimated 850,000 more have Type 2 diabetes but do not know it.

Figures show that almost a third (32%) of people with Type 1 diabetes and one in seven (15%) with Type 2 have not had a foot check. Diabetes causes 100 amputations a week, of which around 80% are thought to be preventable through proper foot health.

Barbara Young, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said: "Diabetes is a serious condition which can lead to devastating long-term complications including blindness, kidney failure and amputations. The tragedy is that, for example, 90% of cases of sight loss could have been avoided if they had been identified early enough and treated appropriately.

"The 15 measures will help ensure people with diabetes are getting the care they need, and if they're not, Diabetes UK wants people to use the checklist and ask for the standards of care that have been recommended by expert bodies and patients across the UK.

"With the right care and education, there is no reason why people with diabetes shouldn't live long and healthy lives."

The 15 measures for diabetics are: get blood glucose levels checked, have blood pressure monitored, get cholesterol levels checked, have an eye check, attend foot and leg appointments, ensure your kidney function is monitored, get your weight checked, get help to stop smoking if you are a smoker, receive care planning that is tailored to your individual needs, attend an education course, receive paediatric care if you are a child or young person, receive high-quality care if admitted to hospital, get information and specialist care if you are planning to have a baby, see diabetes specialist healthcare professionals and get emotional and psychological support.