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Published: 14 November 2023

“It’s a must-do”: Patient advocate Gordon Hynes encourages everyone with diabetes to choose eye screening

We’re highlighting the importance of taking care of your eyes for World Diabetes Day 2023.

Eye screening is a critical part of a person’s overall diabetic management and care. Diabetic RetinaScreen is our national eye screening programme which aims to find and treat serious eye disease (retinopathy) in people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes aged 12 years and older. Screening is free and if treatment is needed it is also free.

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It is caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (the retina), potentially damaging a person’s eyesight. When retinopathy is caught early, treatment is effective at reducing or preventing damage to the sight.

Gordon Hynes from Ratoath in Co. Meath was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2005, aged 26. For years, Gordon says he didn’t take much notice. A car accident in 2017, caused by low blood sugar, prompted him to start managing his diabetes.

“The car accident was the best thing that happened to me,” he says. “It enabled me to get a team around me. I got a dietician, a nutritionist, diabetic nurses and a specialist.”

Gordon went for his first diabetic retina screening in 2017. Speaking about his experience with the Diabetic RetinaScreen programme, Gordon said: “It’s a comfort to know what stage I’m at in terms of eye care. I have regular eye tests, and over the last 6 years there has been no deterioration. It’s great peace of mind. Retina screening tells me that I’m doing well; that I’m controlling my sugar levels.”

He has this advice for young people: “Diabetes can be hard work, but it can be managed. If you manage it, it shouldn’t impede your life. Have an active lifestyle. The more active you are, the better your diabetes will be.”

Gordon encourages everyone with diabetes to go for screening: “It’s a must-do. You have to know what’s going on. Your eyes could start to deteriorate quicker than they should. You have to be on top of it and you do that through screening.”