Eye say! DJ launches diabetes kit

KEEP your eyes peel-ed for this vital piece of medical kit said veteran DJ John as he launched a new mobile eye screening service. The facility, which will help save the sight of fellow diabetes sufferers which will operate from 28 doctors' surgeries around west Suffolk.

KEEP your eyes peel-ed for this vital piece of medical kit said veteran DJ John as he launched a new mobile eye screening service.

The facility, which will help save the sight of fellow diabetes sufferers which will operate from 28 doctors' surgeries around west Suffolk.

It uses a digital camera to photograph the retina. Any changes in the eye are then referred to ophthalmology departments at hospital, and can be successfully treated if caught early enough.

Mr Peel, who boasts one of the most distinctive voices on the air and has worked at Radio One since its launch in 1967, only realised he was diabetic after he developed sudden problems with his sight.

He visited eye specialists and was diagnosed with the illness on September 11, 2001 – a day which sticks in his mind for more than one reason.

He explained: "I had a blood test and was feeling dreadful. I went home to lie on my bed when I turned on the television and saw what was happening at the World Trade Center.

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"I had developed an awful gauze effect across my eye, which just suddenly appeared and would not go away. It was really incapacitating, but I was astonished at the extent to which the service was able to rectify the damage. "The problems have all been erased for me, which is near miraculous," he added

"I am aware of how vitally important it is for people with the illness to have regular eye checks. There are few things in life as precious as sight, and it seems ridiculous and tragic that someone might lose their vision due to diabetes when a simple eye test can identify problems before its too late."

The service, which was launched at the Rookery Medical Centre in Newmarket, will screen around 6,500 patients every year, and costs £103,000 to run.

The facility is the first of its kind in Suffolk, and has saved the sight of four patients since it was introduced in August.

"Only six per cent of the patients we screen have sight-threatening changes on their retina, but diabetes can have a dramatic effect on people's sight," said Richard Dewhirst , head of the diabetic eye screening service at the West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds.

"In the past, patients have only had access to screening through the hospital, where it can be difficult to park. It can also be a long distance to travel for patients living in Woolpit and Sudbury, for example. This new service is for the convenience of the patients."

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