An eye on diabetes fears and treatments

·2-min read

Deteriorating eye and kidney health are the top concerns among Australian diabetes patients, new research shows.

More than 120,000 Australians have type 1 diabetes, a condition which develops when the pancreas inexplicably stops producing insulin.

Despite significant developments in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, patients and carers continue to have concerns, as revealed in survey findings released by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on Sunday.

More than two-thirds of respondents listed eye problems (68 per cent) and kidney problems (67 per cent) among the medical complications they feared developing as a result of diabetes.

Circulation problems, sometimes leading to amputation (62 per cent) and heart disease (57 per cent) were also among the top concerns of more than 1300 people surveyed.

"From financial burdens through to the damage it can have on mental health and wellbeing, (type one diabetes) casts a long and impactful shadow," foundation CEO Mike Wilson said.

The survey findings also highlighted the benefits of 'continuous glucose monitoring', which is achieved by having a device permanently attached to the body to assess blood-sugar levels and sound an alarm when too low or high, potentially saving lives.

The technology is government-funded only for people aged up to 21 years.

More than 71 per cent of survey respondents said the cost - quantified at $98.20 per month by the foundation - of technology such as continuous glucose monitoring was the reason they didn't use it.

The foundation suggested an expansion of the funding program, in the first instance to be continued for current users after they turn 21.

"We believe people who have accessed the technology through the program should continue to do so," Sunday's report read.

The federal government said the monitoring subsidy scheme was implemented in 2017 and assisted more than 58,000 people.

"The eligibility criteria are designed to target access to people with diabetes who are in most need for taxpayer-funded assistance and are continuously being expanded," a spokesperson told AAP.

An expert panel, including diabetes specialists, gave advice on creating the subsidy scheme.

"The advisory group recommended that people with the highest clinical need were people with type 1 diabetes, under 21 years of age," the spokesperson said.