Bupa: Early detection critical

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Early detection is critical to ensure the most effective treatment of vision and hearing loss, according to Bupa.

The company said diabetes has been associated with an increased risk of vision and hearing loss and it is considered the biggest cause of preventable blindness in Australia.

"Recent studies have shown people living with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer hearing loss than those without the condition," it said.

"The more severe the diabetes, the more significant the risk of permanent hearing and vision loss. Because diabetes is a condition that affects blood vessels all through the body, persistently high blood sugar levels can impact the small blood vessels in the eyes and inner ear."

According to Bupa Optometrist Karen Makin, conditions like diabetic retinopathy, which affects up to 35 per cent of Australians living with diabetes, often give no visual symptoms or can be undetected as changes to eyesight happen slowly and over time.

“Symptoms often don’t emerge until the later stages of the condition when people suffer vision loss,” said Makin. “The good news is that in many cases, serious vision loss can be prevented with regular eye examinations and early treatment.”

Bupa Audiologist Vijay Marimuthu said changes to hearing can also be sudden and symptoms can develop slowly.

“Hearing is something people neglect, but the impact of hearing loss is profound,” he says.“Undiagnosed hearing loss can affect your overall sense of wellbeing. It can lead to isolation, loss of confidence, break down in relationships and depression.”

“The earlier the hearing loss is detected, the more effective the treatment,” said Marimuthu.