Note to editors: World Diabetes Day is November 14, 2012. Diabetic
Retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss amongst Canadians
under 50 years of age. 500,000 Canadians are living with some form of
this condition and this figure is expected to increase by 61 per cent in the next 20 years.
TORONTO, Nov. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - The diabetes epidemic in this country is
a subject upon which much ink has been spilled. An astonishing nine
million Canadians are living today with diabetes or pre-diabetes - a
number that has risen sharply in recent years, creating a major health
challenge for our society.
And, as diabetes becomes more and more common, so too does diabetic
retinopathy, an insidious complication that can steal a person's
eyesight with little to no warning.
Half a million Canadians are affected by diabetic retinopathy, making it
the leading cause of vision loss in Canadians under 50 years of age. It
occurs when uncontrolled blood sugar levels cause blood vessels in the
retina to swell and leak, leading to retinal damage and vision loss.
In the early stages, it often attacks with no symptoms or associated
pain - and by the time vision loss is perceptible, it's usually
Cases of diabetic retinopathy are projected to rise significantly in the
years ahead. By the year 2031, the number of Canadians with this eye
disease is estimated to increase 61 per cent, making this an epidemic
of blinding proportions.
However, this is one epidemic that doesn't need to happen - because
although diabetic retinopathy is one of the most serious eye diseases
out there, it's also one of the most avoidable.
People with diabetes can take steps to avoid vision loss from diabetic
retinopathy by controlling their blood pressure, exercising, eating
healthy, keeping their blood sugar in check and getting regular eye
In fact, the importance of regular eye exams can't be understated. The
reality is that nearly all Canadians with type 1 diabetes and 60 per
cent of those with type 2 develop some form of diabetic retinopathy
during the first 20 years they have the disease. But if caught early,
diabetic retinopathy can be treated and further vision loss prevented.
Prevention is also the name of the game from an economic standpoint,
given the huge financial burden diabetic retinopathy places on Canadian
society as a whole. Diabetic retinopathy costs our economy an
astonishing $521 million a year, including a whopping $258 million in
direct health costs for things like hospitalization, treatment and
These numbers will only go up in the years ahead unless we do something
to stem the tide.
Of course, that's to say nothing of the immense personal cost of vision
loss in the lives of individual Canadians. Vision loss changes lives
forever, and creates practical and emotional challenges that can be
difficult to overcome. What's more, it adds an extra layer of
complication to the management of chronic diseases like diabetes.
November 14 is World Diabetes Day. On this day of awareness, CNIB is
asking Canadians with diabetes to take a closer look at their vision
health, starting with a complete eye examination by an eye doctor. Your
eyes will thank you.
For more information on diabetic retinopathy, visit cnib.ca/dr
Image with caption: "Dr. Keith Gordon is CNIB's vice-president of research (CNW Group/CNIB)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121113_C7419_PHOTO_EN_20563.jpg
For further information:
Manager, Corporate Communications
1929 Bayview Avenue
T: 416-486-2500 ext. 7570
CNIB: Seeing beyond vision loss. Visit www.cnib.ca.