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Briggs backs charities’ efforts to raise awareness of Diabetic Retinopathy.

Miles Briggs, Lothian MSP and the Shadow Health Secretary, today backed the efforts of RNIB Scotland and Diabetes Scotland to raise awareness of diabetic retinopathy- the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among all working-age adults. Miles was speaking in a Member’s debate at Holyrood initiated by Stuart McMillan MSP on National Eye Health Week 2017 and the threat to vision posed by diabetic retinopathy.

Speaking today Miles said:

“ I commend Diabetes Scotland and RNIB Scotland for the joint action they are taking to raise awareness of diabetic retinopathy. It is right that there is a real focus on what is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among all working-age adults. With more than 290,000 Scots currently living with diabetes and that number predicted to continue to grow in the years ahead, we will all agree that tackling diabetic retinopathy and reducing its impact must be a key health priority, as well of course as addressing factors like diet, obesity and physical activity levels which are linked to the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

“ Identifying diabetic retinopathy early can lead to treatment that can prevent or reduce sight loss so encouraging every person over 12 who has diabetes of either kind to take up their annual screening appointment is vital. The condition often has no symptoms until it is well advanced so the importance of annual screening cannot be overstated. It is hugely 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.

“ Clearly more action is needed to increase screening uptake rates and I would urge friends and family members of people with diabetes to encourage them to attend the screening and to help remind them of the importance of the annual check. We should also continue to get the message across that the screening for diabetic retinopathy is different to the eye tests someone would get at an opticians’. In addition, we must emphasise that anyone with diabetes who believes they aren’t being invited to attend the screening or who believes they have missed an invitation in a particular year, should not hesitate to speak to their GP or local diabetes healthcare team about this.

“ I welcome the powerful online and cinema commercial based on the message “ How do you see Scotland?” which is being shown at the moment. I commend Brian Cox both for his support of this ad and for talking publically about his own experiences with diabetes. This has generated significant media coverage in recent days and I hope will have helped to raise awareness of this important health issue.”

ENDs…

Miles Briggs