Put yourself first and get an eye test

When Judith Daw experienced some blurriness in her eyes, she was a busy foster mum and carer who always put others needs before her own.

The 65-year-old retiree from Albany, who has been living with type two diabetes for about ten years, noticed the blurriness about three years ago. However, she put off having an eye test for another twelve months.

Along with her foster mum and caring responsibilities, around the same time as the blurriness appeared Judith’s husband was diagnosed with a life threatening abdominal aortic aneurism (AAA). With so much focus on her family’s health, Judith didn’t realise her own blood glucose levels had been rising.

“I was going through a lot,” she admitted.

When she eventually found time to see an optometrist, he immediately sent her to a specialist eye doctor.

“He (the specialist) told me that within two weeks I would possibly have been blind in my left eye,” Judith said.

“So he then had to do injections in my eyes and I had to have them done every four weeks.”

For the past two years Judith has required regular appointments with her specialist for treatment in both eyes. The good news is the treatment has been highly effective and she will soon only need check-ups going forward. Managing her blood glucose levels has contributed to the eye improvement.

“You definitely have to put yourself first. I would never ignore it again. It isn’t that hard to do if you’ve got the support at home, which I do have.

“I would advise people to have regular eye checks, just go and have it done, rather than just leave it.”

Around 630,000 Australians, or about half of all people living with diabetes, are at risk of vision loss or blindness because they aren’t having their eyes checked regularly. This means eye damage is often identified too late, when treatment is less effective and more costly.

Diabetes Australia’s new national KeepSight campaign is designed to make it easier for people to remember to have regular eye checks. Once registered with KeepSight, participants receive reminders and prompts to have regular diabetes eye checks with their provider of choice. Costs are usually funded by Medicare.

To register with KeepSight go to www.keepsight.org.au.