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Diabetes no longer leading cause of blindness

Diabetic eye disease is no longer the leading cause of blindness for the first time in over 50 years, a study has revealed. 

By comparing data from 1999 to 2000 and 2009 to 2010, researchers found that although the rates of diabetes have increased over the period, diabetic eye disease has decreased. 

Researchers from Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology believe it's likely that public health interventions such as screening have played a key role. 

The NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme, introduced by the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) in 2003, invites approximately 2.5 million people for screening every year.

Dr Anne Mackie, director of programmes for the UK NSC, part of Public Health England said:

"2.5 million people are invited for diabetic retinopathy screening every year. Last year more than 74,000 were referred to hospital eye services for further investigation which led to around 4,600 people with diabetes receiving treatment to help prevent sight loss.

"Although the diabetic eye screening programme has made huge improvements in the early identification of diabetic eye disease, sight loss is still an important public health issue and can affect anyone." 

[Liew. G, Michaelides. M, Bunce. C; A comparison of the causes of blindness certifications in England and Wales in working age adults (16 to 64 years), 1999 to 2000 with 2009 to 2010. BMJ Open 2014, 12 February 2014]