Posted on June 11 2020
The following is the seventh in a series of weekly guest posts from 2020 Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke.
About Dr Muecke
56-year-old Dr James Muecke AM is passionate about fighting blindness. His focus is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults – type 2 diabetes – a spiralling epidemic that in some regions of Australia is impacting over one-in-ten people. It's also the fastest growing cause of vision loss in Aboriginal people and the sixth-biggest killer in this country. James wants to challenge our perception of sugar and its toxic impact on the development of type 2 diabetes.
James co-founded Sight For All, a social impact organisation aiming to create a world where everyone can see. Sight For All’s comprehensive and sustainable educational strategies are impacting on the lives of over one million people each year.
With 80% of world blindness avoidable – and almost 90% in low income countries – James treats blindness as a human rights issue.
This is the seventh piece in this series, to read the sixth message click here
Type 2 diabetes ravages the entire body
Type 2 diabetes takes on average 13 years to develop following the onset of insulin resistance and fatty liver, however in children and teens the disease can develop within two years. The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is often made years after the onset of the disease, indeed it’s common for people to have type 2 diabetes for 5-7 years before diagnosis. Fatty infiltration of the pancreas impairs insulin production and eventually results in a measurable increase in the blood glucose level. The ensuing hyperglycaemia (high level of glucose in the blood) leads to the characteristic early symptoms of excessive thirst and urination, and drives continued insulin production. The vicious cycle of metabolic dysfunction progresses, and the sustained hyperinsulinemia (high level of insulin in the blood) is responsible for many of the severe and life-threatening complications of type 2 diabetes.
Persistent hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycaemia will in time damage the fine blood vessels throughout the body, resulting in numbness and pain of the extremities, impotence, kidney failure, blindness, and dementia. Hyperinsulinemia itself predisposes to the development of atheroma (fatty plaques) which can block the major blood vessels, leading to gangrene of the feet and amputation of the lower limbs (peripheral vascular disease), heart attack, stroke and death. It also plays a role in the causation of other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension and cancer. Type 2 diabetes truly ravages the entire body.
It’s easy to nominate now for the 2021 Awards, just complete the online nomination form at australianoftheyear.org.au.
Keen to know more? Read the next blog piece here!