Background: Early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus is important for limiting its adverse effects. We sought to determine the level of awareness of diabetes and its ocular complications within the community and among the members of Diabetes Australia.
Methods: Two groups were surveyed: 1. 1,000 people randomly selected from the Queensland electoral role (people without diabetes) and 2. A random sample of 500 members of Diabetes Australia (Queensland) (people with diabetes). The surveys consisted primarily of questions relating to the person's current knowledge of diabetes, including ocular and health complications, and their knowledge of available eye care services.
Results: The rate of return was greater for the members of Diabetes Australia (58.6 per cent) than for the public (33.5 per cent). The majority of respondents without diabetes tended to consult an optometrist for their eye care (76 per cent), while the group with diabetes consulted ophthalmologists more (63.6 per cent). People with diabetes tended to have more frequent eye examinations, 86.7 per cent had been for an eye examination within the preceding 18 months (compared with 36.6 per cent of the public). The level of awareness of the ocular effects of diabetes was high: 96 per cent of people with and 78.5 per cent of people without diabetes knew that diabetes could be sight-threatening.
Conclusion: The membership of Diabetes Australia had a greater understanding of the possible ocular effects of diabetes and the need for regular eye examinations than the general community. Potential sample bias and the fact that respondents could infer a link between eye problems and diabetes from the survey questions should be taken into account in interpreting the data presented here.