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Half Million Brits Risk Blindness

Friday, 12 November 2010

UP TO half a million people in the UK, who are unaware they have Type 2 diabetes1, could be at risk of blindness.


In support of World Diabetes Day on Sunday 14 November, Specsavers in Huddersfield is to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye examinations to detect the sight-threatening condition.   


Richard Hurdley, store director at Specsavers in Huddersfield says: 'Although this is a global awareness day, diabetes is very much an issue in the UK. People with diabetes are 20 times more at risk of going blind than someone without the condition.


'Up to 40% of the 2.8 million people in the UK who currently have diabetes have some degree of optical damage, known as retinopathy. However, if retinopathy is detected early and treated then blindness can be prevented in 90% of cases. Here at our store we use a fundus camera to take a digital photograph of the back or the eye, which allows us to monitor the smallest of changes.


'We also want to raise awareness that an eye examination can detect signs of diabetes among people who don't even realise they have it, which is why we are urging everyone to have an eye test at least every two years.'


The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has increased by more than 15,000 in the last year alone to 2.8 million, meaning that one in 20 of the population is currently being treated for diabetes2. The awareness day aims to dispel some of the myths surrounding the condition.


All Specsavers optometrists are trained to spot the signs of diabetes during a regular eye examination.  Eye tests are free under the NHS to the over 60s and those under 19 in full-time education, as well as to people already diagnosed with diabetes. 

To book an eye examination visit Specsavers at 18 Market Street, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD1 2ET, call 01484544566 or visit www.specsavers.co.uk/stores/Huddersfield


1Source: Diabetes UK (January 2009) The leading health charity says there are up to 500,000 people with Type 2 diabetes who do not know it.

2Source: Diabetes UK (October 2010).


Specsavers notes to editors                                                                     

  • Specsavers was founded by Doug and Dame Mary Perkins in 1984 and is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world
  • The couple still run the company, along with their three children. Their son John is joint managing director
  • Specsavers has more than 1,500 stores throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Annual turnover for the Specsavers Group was £1.36 billion for 2009/10 and is forecast to reach £1.55 billion in 2010/11.
  • Specsavers optical stores and hearing centres are owned and run by joint venture or franchise partners. Together, they offer both optical and hearing services under one roof.
  • Specsavers employs more than 26,000 staff
  • Specsavers was voted Britain's most trusted brand of opticians for the ninth year running by the Reader's Digest Trusted Brands survey 2010
  • More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers * - 9,700,000 glasses were exported from the warehouse to stores in 2009
  • Specsavers was ranked No 1 for both eye tests and glasses in the UK *
  • Specsavers is the largest retail provider of home delivery contact lenses in Europe and one of the top two retail suppliers of continuous wear lenses in the world
  • Specsavers is now the largest retail dispenser of digital hearing aids in the UK and offers a hearing service from more than 400 locations
  • Specsavers supports numerous optical and hearing charities, including Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. During its three-year support for Diabetes UK it raised more than £250,000 to fund various projects
  • Since 2003 more than a quarter of a million glasses have been collected and recycled by Specsavers stores for Vision Aid Overseas, for use in developing countries. Specsavers has raised over £370,000 for the charity since 2006, with almost £245,000 going towards its work in Zambia.


*GfK NOP