This week is Diabetes Week (10 – 16 June). Diabetes affects an estimated 4.7 million people in the UK. The condition can be life-threatening if it is not treated with proper medication and a healthy diet, but it is estimated almost 1 million people are undiagnosed and do not know they are living with diabetes.
A simple eye test can detect the signs of diabetes. The tiny blood vessels in the back of the eye are affected by the condition, and changes can be detected by an optician. Around one in three people will have complications by the time they are diagnosed with diabetes so regular eye tests are an important tool in making sure diabetes is detected and managed.
An eye test is such a simple and inexpensive way to check on the signs of many wider health conditions, including diabetes. As part of their health and well-being programme, we are urging HR managers to ensure they have an eye care policy in place for all employees.
· Diabetes is responsible for 5% of all sight loss in the UK
· 7% of people in England and Wales with newly registered sight loss have diabetes
· Diabetes is one of the leading causes of preventable sight loss in the UK
· 14% of working age people who have severe visual impairment have diabetes
· More than a quarter of people with Type 2 diabetes have some form of diabetic retinopathy.
· More than 1,700 people have their sight seriously affected by their diabetes every year in the UK.
· By the time they are diagnosed, one in three people already have complications with their eyes, feet, kidneys or nerves.
One third of employers don’t offer eye care
Despite these figures, and the fact that an eye test can aid with early detection of diabetes, more than a third (37%) of employers offer no eye care at all.
The employer’s role
Legally, eye tests should be provided to all screen users and those driving for work purposes. They are also likely to be offered to those needing prescription safety eyewear. As such, the majority of employers should already be providing a regular eye test for employees.
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing health conditions today. HR managers are in a unique position to be able to make a very real difference to the health and wellbeing of employees. In instigating eye care for all they could not only have a positive effect on morale and productivity, but they could actually be saving sight and even lives.