More than 3,500 people in St Helens are at risk of losing their sight because of diabetes, new figures reveal.
That's the warning from bosses at Specsavers, who are raising awareness of the effects of the condition during Diabetes Week.
Research shows more than 3,500 people in St Helens are at risk of losing their sight due to the condition.
Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave CBE is joining forces with Specsavers and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to warn of the risks of blindness linked to the condition.
The campaign follows Sir Steve admitting that losing his sight is one of his biggest worries - as his diabetes means he is up to 20 times more likely to lose his sight than those without the condition.
Sir Steve says: "Going blind is, unfortunately, a very real threat for me. Until I was diagnosed with the condition, I was totally unaware of its implications on sight and having lived with diabetes for more than 20 years now, I can’t stress enough the importance of regular eye tests at your opticians and check-ups at the nearest diabetic screening programme.
"Since being diagnosed with type two diabetes, I’ve learnt how important it is to get regular eye checks to detect signs of diabetic retinopathy, which can cause blindness. The eyes are a window to general health so visiting your optician should be part of your routine for staying fit and healthy."
Sophie Castell, Director of Relationships at RNIB, said: "Sadly, all too often, people with diabetes can lose their sight due to complications.
"Yet with early detection through regular eye tests and specialist diabetic eye screening followed by timely treatment, sight loss due to diabetic retinopathy can be prevented. We’re so grateful for the support of Specsavers’ staff across the country as they take part in their row-a-thons to mark Diabetes Week and look forward to hearing how they get on."
Tom Lowry, director of St Helens, added: "Many people are unaware that eye tests are not only critical for your eyes, but your wider health too.
"At Specsavers, we offer digital retinal photography for free as part of a standard eye test for customers aged over 40. This takes a detailed picture of the back of your eye and the microcirculation of blood – helping to highlight indicators of diabetes that need addressing alongside the diabetic eye screening programme."