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Corrie star launches sight-saving service

06 Dec 2007

Actress Sue Cleaver, who plays Eileen Grimshaw in Coronation Street, will tomorrow launch a major new screening campaign to reduce the risk of blindness among people with diabetes.

Based at The University of Manchester's Vision Centre, the new service will promote the clear and simple message that 'Screening Saves Sight'.

Sue, a diabetic herself, is appealing to the 100,000 people in Greater Manchester who have diabetes to visit their GP and get their eyes tested for diabetic retinopathy.
 
The eye disease, which affects 30 per cent of diabetes sufferers, is the most common cause of blindness among people aged 16 to 65, so regular eye checks by a trained professional are seen as vital by experts.

The new screening programme, co-ordinated across all the primary care trusts in the region and the single largest of its kind in the country, introduces an innovative system of digital photography, which offers more accurate and efficient detection of the disease.
 
"It is crucial that people suffering from diabetes take part in the screening process to cut the risk of losing their sight," said Vision Centre Manager Catherine Porter.

"This new screening service, with its central database, will make it easier for us to invite people for a check-up and make prompt referrals for any necessary treatment. The test is free and takes only a few minutes, so there really is no excuse."

Laser treatment is very effective at preventing loss of sight from retinopathy, if the condition is caught in its early stages. This can be vital because diabetes patients are not able to detect retinopathy themselves until it is well advanced, by which time treatment has much less chance of success.

A new computer system will store all the retinal photographs and will keep track of when people are due for screening. A reminder will be sent from a central office advising when they need to make an appointment with an optometrist.

"Diabetes sufferers should also see their GP for an annual check-up, and ensure they take good care of themselves to reduce the risk of damaging their eye sight," added Catherine, who is based in the University's Faculty of Life Sciences.

"By keeping blood sugar and blood pressure under control, watching weight and diet, taking regular exercise and not smoking, the risk of developing retinopathy is greatly reduced."

A total investment of £1.38 million in the Greater Manchester area means people living with diabetes should experience a more accessible, efficient and accurate screening service.

Patient information is available from the screening administration team, Diabetes UK or the local patient advice and liaison service.

Notes for editors

" When diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the part of the eye called the retina, this is called diabetic retinopathy. Blood vessels bring oxygen to the retina but these blood vessels can be damaged if someone has diabetes. Severe changes will affect the health of the retina, which can damage sight.
" The check-up involves applying drops to the eyes to make the pupils large enough for a photograph of the retina to be taken. Professionals trained to detect and grade diabetic retinopathy will examine the photographs and the final result will be sent to the client, the GP and the coordinators of the screening programme.
" People are at increased risk of developing retinopathy if they have had diabetes for a long time, if their blood glucose is poorly controlled, if they have high blood pressure, they are pregnant or taking insulin.
" Nationally, about four per cent of the population has diabetes. In Greater Manchester approximately 100,000 people have diabetes — 4.55 per cent of the total population.
" About 30 per cent of people living with diabetes are expected to exhibit signs of retinopathy, which equates to more than 26,000 people in Greater Manchester.


Media invitation:

Members of the press are invited to attend the campaign launch on Friday 7 December, at 2pm at The Vision Centre, Moffat Building, University of Manchester, Altrincham Street, Manchester M60 1QD

Sue Cleaver will be available for interview, filming, recording and photographing. You will also have the opportunity to record Sue undertaking the diabetic retinopathy screening test and, if interested, undertake the screening test yourself.

For further details and to confirm your attendance please contact:
Gareth Jones at Glennie McIntosh on 01249 445778 or email gareth.jones@glennie.com

Or:

Aeron Haworth at The University of Manchester on 0161 275 8383 or email aeron.haworth@manchester.ac.uk