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On the lookout for diabetic eye disease

(NC) Former photographer Bill Power has an important message for fellow Canadians with diabetes: get your eyes checked regularly.

Bill, who lives in Toronto, says he wishes he'd gotten that message 20 years ago when he was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. A few years ago he woke up one morning and saw a red dot that wouldn't go away. He went to see his eye doctor who diagnosed him with diabetic macular edema, or DME.

DME is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the retina. When these blood vessels swell and leak, the leaking fluid can cause swelling in the macula, the central part of the retina at the back of the eye where sharp vision is determined. This can then result in blurred vision and can lead to permanent vision loss over time.

Bill's vision deteriorated quickly and he is now legally blind. His vision loss has taken an emotional toll - and it has taken Bill a long time to come to terms with his new reality.

Now he says he's ready to help others avoid his fate. “Had I known type 2 diabetes could result in my losing my vision I would have been checking my eyes regularly,” he says.

It is estimated that vision loss resulting from DME affects approximately 2.5 per cent of the nearly 2.4 million Canadians with diabetes, or approximately 60,000 Canadians, making it a major cause of adult-onset vision loss.

For more information about DME and other eye conditions, visit

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