Ben is 34 and blind. Here is his story…
Ben was 12 years old when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He didn’t realise how much it would change his life.
Listen to Ben’s journey with diabetes-related vision loss in this video, and read more about how a new initiative is helping children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes from developing diabetes-related vision loss.
One morning in April, Ben awoke to find he was blind in his left eye – everything was black.
“I was so scared,” Ben says. Unfortunately doctors have told Ben his retina detached due to diabetes and his sight may never be restored in his left eye. Now he lives with the constant fear that the same thing will happen to his right eye and he’ll be completely blind.
Diabetes is affecting more people’s sight. In children and teenagers, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are a major cause of severe and irreversible vision loss. Ben didn’t know it could affect him so quickly.
The Perron Paediatric Retinopathy Initiative clinic was recently opened at the Lions Eye Institute. A partnership with the Perth Children’s Hospital, and generously supported by the Stan Perron Charitable Foundation, this much-needed resource is where children can be screened, assessed and treated for diabetes-related vision changes.
Children growing up with diabetes do not have to live with the fear of vision loss. Screening children at regular intervals will enable us to detect complications at the earliest stages. This is the key to avoiding irreversible vision loss in children.
Ben believes if the clinic was there when he was a child, he may still have his sight. “Knowing how bad it is to be blind, it would be great if it’s going to help young kids, because I never knew growing up how quickly diabetes could affect your eyes. If people can donate and that can help, that would be fantastic.”