Scottish actor Brian Cox backs campaign to highlight threat of diabetic retinopathy to vision

Post date: 
Monday, 18 September 2017

This National Eye Health Week, RNIB Scotland and Diabetes Scotland and have joined forces, with support from actor Brian Cox CBE, to raise awareness of the importance of specialist eye screening for people living with diabetes.

According to latest figures from the Scottish Diabetes Survey 2016, over 42,000 of the 287,336 people who are eligible for diabetic retinopathy screening in Scotland do not have any record for the previous 15 months. 

Diabetic retinopathy is a potential complication of diabetes and the leading cause of preventable sight loss in working age adults. The ‘How Do You See Scotland?’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the condition and the importance of attending regular screening.  As part of the campaign, the charities have released a series of photographic images of iconic Scottish landmarks obscured by the effects of retinopathy.

To launch the campaign, Brian Cox, star of films such as The Bourne series, X-Men 2 and this summer’s Churchill, has narrated a 90-second film which will be shown in Scottish cinemas during National Eye Health Week.

The film opens with images of beautiful scenery in Scotland that gradually become obscured by dark blotches, mimicking the effects of diabetic retinopathy which affects the blood vessels in the eyes.  In his narration, Cox stresses that attending diabetic retinopathy screening appointments, which are different from regular eye examinations at an opticians, are important to help prevent sight loss.

Actor Brian Cox said:  “Like many Scots, I am living with diabetes and I am aware of the various challenges it can bring. To help me stay healthy, I make sure I attend my diabetes check-up appointments, including retinopathy screening, and I encourage all people with diabetes to do the same.

“Sight loss is a potentially devastating complication of diabetes which can develop if people are not supported to manage their condition well. However, regular retinopathy screening means that changes to the eye can be detected early enough to allow treatment which can prevent further deterioration and irreversible damage.

“I’m proud to support the ‘How Do You See Scotland?’ campaign from Diabetes Scotland and RNIB Scotland during National Eye Health Week.  Don’t lose sight of what’s important; get your eyes checked.”

Like Brian, over 291,000 people in Scotland are living with diabetes, and this number is rising every year.   Attending regular retinopathy screening is an essential part of diabetes care for people, aged 12 or over, who are living with the condition.

Diabetic retinopathy happens when the eye’s tiny blood vessels start to either leak or become blocked. This can lead to either loss of central vision or, at worst, total blindness.

Campbell Chalmers, director of RNIB Scotland, said: “Retinopathy is the single biggest cause of preventable sight loss among working-age people. That’s why it’s so important that everyone with diabetes attends the eye check-ups that are an essential part of their diabetes care.

“During National Eye Health week we want to urge people to take care of one of the most precious things we have – our sight!”

Jane-Claire Judson, national director of Diabetes Scotland, said:  “It is very concerning that over 42,000 people with diabetes in Scotland do not have a record of attending a retinopathy screening appointment in the last 15 months.  Screening is vital to pick up early warning signs of damage to the eye so that people can get the treatment needed to prevent permanent damage. 

“We need to understand why people are not attending their screening appointments and what can be done to remove these barriers.  We hope the ‘How Do You See Scotland?’ campaign will raise awareness of the issue and encourage more people to attend this essential diabetes healthcare service.”