Conversations about diabetic retinopathy (DR) often revolve around screening and treatment; such as the latest innovations in detecting of DR, the use of AI in increasing accessibility of treatments, and the consequences of seeking treatment after symptoms have already occurred. In these conversations, however, the voice of those living with diabetes is often absent. In a recent article by Healthline entitled “Fear and Loathing of Diabetes Retinopathy Treatment,” this much-needed voice is brought to the forefront.
For Mike Hoskins, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of five, fear of diabetes-related complications has had a significant impact on his life. While his knowledge of the risk of DR enabled him to undertake regular screening, his apprehension regarding the associated treatment points to a trend in how diabetes is often discussed.
DR is widely known as the leading cause of preventable blindness around the world. This statement, while accurate also understandably evokes fear within the millions of people living with this condition. While this fear can encourage individuals such as Hoskins to obtain regular screening, for individuals diagnosed at a young age (which has become increasingly popular), it can also lead to what Hoskins refers to as a “rebellious” phase.
This rebellion, often during teenage years, is a significant concern and should be taken into consideration when thinking about how best to approach complications associated with diabetes. The immense array of potential complications that those living with the condition are bombarded with often leads to, as Hoskins explains, a sense of “hopelessness” or apathy during teenage years. As a result, these individuals often are not as careful in the management of their condition and therefore engage in behaviours that have deleterious effects which are then carried into adulthood, consequently increasing the likelihood of the very complications they feared.
Addressing phenomenon such as these is imperative in the global effort to prevent diabetic retinopathy. The DR Barometer Program, a collaborative network which includes; health care professionals, patient advocates, individuals living with diabetes and experts from around the world, such as IFA expert Dr. Jane Barratt work together to ensure that issues such as these are brought to the forefront. Join the DR Barometer Community today and make sure your voice is heard!
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