“Being both an optician and a diabetic helps me to connect with others with the disease”
Miquel González has been a diabetic since he was 12 and he is also an optician and optometrist by profession. These two circumstances make him an authority on the relationship between eyesight and the disease from both a professional and personal perspective. When he was diagnosed, now 30 years ago, people were not as aware of diabetes and less was known about the disease. The situation has changed considerably today
How did your daily life change when you found out that had the disease?
It was a sudden change in the family because it involved an incurable, chronic disease and I was very young to have it. I had to inject insulin, do exercise and take care with food; what I ate had to be weighed out. What was most traumatic when I was an adolescent was having to inject myself with “drug-addict” needles, the ones I saw on reports on the subject as there was much less awareness than today.
How do you experience the disease? Is it compatible with a ‘normal’ life?
At first, it was difficult because I had to restrict myself a lot and it started to affect my studies. I gradually became aware that you can live a fairly normal life despite being a diabetic. What is really important is keep round-the-clock control of the food you eat.
Did diabetes have an influence or any connection with your career development?
No, because in my family there already were people that worked in optometry. However, it’s true that, being a diabetic, and knowing about the risks it can have on eyesight, I found it interesting to learn first-hand about the visual anomalies that I might end up suffering.
How do you look after your eyesight?
As I work in an eye clinic, I try to get myself checked out regularly. With regard to diabetes, I have a retinography once a year and then I see a specialist if necessary.
Opticians and optometrists are vital in the process of detection and control of these problems. How do you address this in your work?
One of the basic questions I ask each day is to know whether the person is a diabetic or has high blood pressure. In the case of a diabetic, I try to empathise with them by telling them that I am a diabetic too. This helps me to inform them of the importance of good diabetic control to avoid any anomalies, either in terms of eyesight or anything else than may stem from diabetes.
Diabetics sometimes fail to monitor themselves properly when it comes to their eyesight. Why do you think this is so?
I put it down to laziness. People are accustomed to seeing a doctor only when something hurts. This needs to be improved greatly. It is important to underline that periodic checks can avoid an eye problem being detected late.