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Don’t turn a blind eye

55,000 people in Scotland – enough to fill Hampden Stadium – are risking losing their sight, according to a report being published today by Diabetes UK Scotland and RNIB Scotland. 

The report and resulting campaign are being launched at the beginning of Diabetes Week by Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon in her Govan constituency in Glasgow.

The report, 'Don’t Turn a Blind Eye', produced by Diabetes UK Scotland and RNIB Scotland, reveals that one in every three people with diabetes are missing out on regular annual screening test for diabetic retinopathy, an eye condition associated with diabetes which can lead to sight loss and blindness.

The report reveals that the latest available figures show that of the 173,000 people with diabetes in Scotland, 55,000 had not been screened for diabetic retinopathy in the past 15 months. The percentages attending for screening varied across the country but even in areas with the highest screening rates, 20 per cent of people were still not attending on a regular basis.

As well as producing the report, Diabetes UK Scotland and RNIB Scotland are announcing a high profile campaign, ‘Think of what you might miss’, to raise awareness of the importance of annual screening, especially among groups of the population who are particularly likely to miss out on regular screening.

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Campaign artwork simulating deterioration of eyesight caused by retinopathy

Nicola Sturgeon said: "Diabetes is a condition which affects thousands of people in Scotland and can have a debilitating effect on lives if not treated properly.

"It is really important that people with diabetes manage their condition properly and regular screening for diabetic retinopathy is an essential part of this.

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                       Nicola Sturgeon at the campaign launch

"I hope the campaign being launched today will raise awareness of the excellent care and screening programmes available for people living with diabetes and in turn reduce the number of people losing their sight needlessly."

Audrey Birt, Director of Diabetes UK Scotland, added: "This joint campaign with RNIB Scotland will raise awareness of the importance of eye screening and give the NHS support to ensure the growing numbers of people who are at risk attend.”

John Legg, Director of RNIB Scotland, said: “We are committed to eliminating avoidable sight loss. In almost all cases sight loss from diabetes can be prevented but the importance of early diagnosis and treatment cannot be stressed too much. With the backing of the Scottish Executive we believe this campaign will get the message to the hard-to-reach communities who have missed out on screening in the past.”

Following the launch, the campaign will be going to every health board area in Scotland over the next six months. The campaign will dovetail with local retinopathy services through specially designed appointment letters which patients will receive from their health board calling them for screening. This integrated approach will ensure that people relate the health board letter to the campaign and its sight-saving message.

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