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    Dr James Muecke: MDFA ambassador

    2020 Australian of the Year continues to raise awareness of diabetes-related eye disease.

    Leading ophthalmologist continues fight against diabetes 

    Macular Disease Foundation Australia is delighted to officially welcome Dr James Muecke AM on board as an MDFA Ambassador. 

    The Adelaide ophthalmologist was named 2020 Australian of the Year for his tireless efforts in fighting blindness. 

    A passionate advocate for saving sight

    Since beginning his medical career in Kenya three decades ago, Dr Muecke has been dedicated to saving sight in vulnerable communities. 

    Dr Muecke is a co-founder of Sight For All, a not-for-profit organisation that delivers eye health solutions to Indigenous people in Australia as well as low income countries across the globe. 

    Although an inherited neurological condition affecting his right hand has forced him to retire from surgery, Dr Muecke continues to enhance eye care in Australia by raising awareness of the impact that diabetes can have on our eyes. 

    The new MDFA Ambassador was instrumental in spreading the word about diabetes-related eye disease during Macula Month in May, our annual awareness campaign. 

    He also joined one of our webinars to spread the word about diabetes-related eye disease, as well as strategies to curb the toxic impact of sugar on our health. 

    “For 30 years, I’ve been dealing with the consequences that diabetes inflicts on the eyes,” Dr Muecke said. 

    “In fact, every year I’m seeing more and more patients who are losing vision – even going blind – due to their diabetes, in particular type 2 diabetes, which makes up about 90 per cent of cases and is a largely preventable dietary disease related to the consumption of too much sugar and ultra-processed foods in our modern diet. 

    The important point here is that nearly all of the loss of vision and blindness due to diabetes is preventable or treatable.

    James Muecke

    Everyone with diabetes is at risk of diabetes-related eye disease. About 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, including 1.2 million who’ve been diagnosed, and 500,000 who haven’t. 

    The most common complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy (DR), which affects one in three people over the age of 50 with the condition. 

    Diabetic macular oedema (DMO) can occur at any stage of DR, potentially causing loss of detailed central vision and even legal blindness. An estimated 72,000 Australians live with DMO. 

    More than two million Australians will have diabetes by 2025, which will lead to a rise in diabetes-related eye disease and vision loss. 

    But Dr Muecke will use his role as an MDFA Ambassador to share a crucial message about how regular eye exams can catch the signs early and hopefully save your sight. 

    To avoid the blinding consequences of this disease, patients with diabetes need to have their eyes checked on a regular basis.

    James Muecke

    “We know that in Australia, of the 1.7 million people with diabetes, well over half are not having their all-important sight-saving eye checks, and that’s why it’s now become the leading cause of blindness amongst working-age adults in this country.” 

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