A blue day for Leicester Mercury to raise awareness of diabetes
Ten Downing Street and the King Power Stadium have joined the Leicester Mercury headquarters to light up blue today, to raise awareness of diabetes.
Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed to light up his home in blue, the colour of the International Diabetes Federation, as part of a global awareness campaign.
The initiative, started in 2007, has seen more than 1,000 monuments and buildings in more than 80 countries lit in blue.
The Mercury first backed the campaign last year. As well as lighting up blue today, we will have a mobile unit offering free tests for the condition outside our St George Street offices.
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The bus is funded by Silver Star, a charity set up by Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, who has type 2 diabetes.
Mr Vaz said: "I congratulate the Prime Minister on his historic decision to light up Downing Street blue following the lead of the Mercury.
"Five years ago, I discovered I had type 2 diabetes because of a local awareness campaign. It is so important everyone takes the test to assess if they have this potentially fatal condition."
Diabetes sufferer Andrew Lambert is also backing the World Diabetes Day campaign.
The 58-year-old, who lives in Husbands Bosworth, is one of more than 50,000 people in Leicestershire with diabetes.
It is estimated that at least a further 100,000 are at risk.
Mr Lambert was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 10 years ago after having his pancreas removed due to cancer.
"The pancreas creates insulin, so when it was removed I became a diabetic overnight," he said. "It has taken over my life.
"I have to test my insulin levels four times a day to try to keep my blood sugar levels under control. If the level drops too low, I get sweaty and clammy and a bit sluggish.
"If the level is too high, it doesn't affect me physically but it does need to be kept under control with insulin and other medication."
One of Mr Lambert's biggest worries is protecting his eyesight.
Damage to the retina is one of the complications of diabetes, and sufferers should have their eyes checked annually.
Dan Callaghan, an optometrist in Market Harborough, said: "People with diabetes are at risk of retinopathy because diabetes can cause small blood vessels, like those found in the eye, to become blocked or sometimes to leak.
"It can cause blindness but if it is caught early, treatment can prevent severe loss of vision in 90 per cent of cases.
"Cataracts and glaucoma are other ways in which diabetes can affect a person's eyesight."
Professor Alan Sinclair, director of the Institute of Diabetes for Older People, said: "Diabetic retinopathy can be a very progressive condition and recent data suggests that the prevalence has doubled in those over 65.
"This can be a major influence on quality of life when it is associated with visual loss."