Diabetes UK has called for action to ensure that every diabetic patient aged over 12 has access to annual retinal screening after new figures revealed that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has doubled within the past 12 months.
The new figures published earlier this week showed that 167,700 people had been diagnosed with diabetes between 2007 and 2008 in comparison to 83,000 the year before.
In England the 6.4 per cent increase means the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has surpassed the 2 million mark for the first time. Scotland contributed the biggest rise (16.9 per cent) with the recorded diabetes population now standing at 200,669 compared to 171,513. The figures also revealed that there are now 5 million people registered obese in the UK compared to almost 4.8 million last year.
Douglas Smallwood, chief executive of Diabetes UK, described the figures as 'truly alarming' and added that diabetes was 'one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today'.
Highlighting the importance of annual retinal screenings, Jemma Edwards, Diabetes UK care adviser, said: 'Three quarters of a million people with diabetes are at risk of losing their sight because they are not being screened for diabetic retinopathy, the primary cause of blindness in the UK's working-age population.'
The figures quoted by the charity were compiled from the 2007-2008 Quality and Outcomes framework for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.