Diabetics screened at University

03 April 2012

Local people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are to be screened at the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at Aberystwyth University as part of their annual health checks.

The Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service for Wales (DRSSW) is an all Wales service designed to detect sight threatening diabetic retinopathy at an early stage.

DRSSW relocated to the University last month (March) from a Day Centre in Aberystwyth and provides a weekly screening service every Wednesday.

The screening team, which consists of two people and specialist equipment, will utilise two of the University’s laboratories during the day and screen approximately 40 patients.

Dr Joanne Thatcher, Head of the Sport and Exercise Science Department, explains ”The service that the DRSSW provides is very important in ensuring early treatment and preventing loss of vision in 70-90% of people with sight threatening diabetic retinopathy. Having the DRSSW based at the University will further increase our understanding of diabetes and help with our research.”

The service was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government in July 2002 as part of a risk reduction programme and an important element of delivering the Diabetes National Service Framework (NSF). DRSSW works closely with each Local Health Board and makes regular visits to local NHS premises.

In November 2011, Aberystwyth University and the Hywel Dda Health Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding that aims to pave the way for greater collaboration in areas of research, continuing professional development and provision of shared services.

The use of University facilities to provide this valuable service has been made possible by the Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed by Professor April McMahon of Aberystwyth University and Chief Executive of the Hywel Dda Health Board, Mr Trevor Purt.

Diabetes lead for Hywel Dda Health Board, consultant Dr Sam Rice, says, “The delivery of retinal screening for patients with diabetes at Aberystwyth University demonstrates the desire for the Health Board and the University to work together to provide the local population with the best levels of care as well as access to up-to-date research in this important area of health.”

The Department of Sport and Exercise Science is currently conducting a new diabetes study which aims to establish if there is a link between low levels of vitamin D and type 2 diabetes.

There is an increasing body of research that suggests a link between low levels of vitamin D, caused by a lack of sunlight, and a number of other medical conditions.