“With good control, many sight problems could be prevented”
Since April 2017, Francesc Fernández Barqué has been the President of the Catalonia Diabetes Association (ADC), which serves a community of over half a million people who suffer from the disease in Catalonia. In Spain, just over 5 million people are affected by diabetes
How did you find out that you had diabetes?
I was diagnosed when I was 7, with clear symptoms: polydipsia, polyuria, polyphagia and weight loss. Luckily, my mother was one of those who make you see the glass half full and she helped me see things positively. As for eye conditions, fortunately, and I’m touching wood here, I haven’t suffered any problems, although I’m fully aware of the risks of diabetic retinopathy.
How many people with diabetes develop vision problems?
There is a relationship between a patient’s hypoglycaemia and the subsequent condition in the retina. It is impossible to give an exact percentage for diabetics with retinopathy, but it can be said that all those with it have exercised poor self-control for a long time. With good control, many vision problems can be prevented.
What message, with regard to prevention and control, would you send to diabetics about vision?
I would advise all patients with diabetes mellitus type I, above all, to try to stabilise their glycaemic values as much as possible since this will contribute greatly to a delay in the appearance of possible complications.
What are the main questions that you receive at the ADC about vision?
We are usually asked about the treatments related to diabetic retinopathy and how to prevent it.
What degree of awareness is there about the diabetes problems associated with vision?
Diabetic retinopathy, together with diabetic nephropathy and diabetic foot, are the most well-known complications of our disease. However, we believe that more information and awareness are still needed to prevent it.
What should a diabetic know?
Diabetes is one of the epidemics of this century. For anyone suffering from the disease, they need to know how to recognise the symptoms and to be aware of the need to monitor their health. At the Catalonia Diabetes Association (ADC), we work intensely on information campaigns, such as the one we conduct with the Institut de la Màcula, which help people to better manage their disease.
How do you carry out this work on increasing awareness?
We organise talks, workshops and courses for individuals and companies, educational centres and institutions. We also promote working groups. In this regard, we collaborate with the main experts in different areas, such as the Institut de la Màcula.