Darlinghurst resident Ben Walsh has always lived life in the fast lane.
At just 11 years old, he started driving racing cars, and at 18 he took his passion to the international circuit until a serious accident during a Japanese Formula 3 meant that he had to take a break from the sport he loved for so long.
Refusing to be defeated, he returned to the Australian circuit last year, and since then has gone from strength to strength, most recently placing first in Darwin’s Triple CrownV8 Supercars event in June.
Despite racing being in his blood, Ben has always had to be very cautious because he also suffers from diabetes, which if not regularly monitored, can have a serious impact on his vision.
Ben says he first discovered he had diabetes when he was 12, but because his family doctor had fully explained the situation to his parents, they were aware of the importance of regular eye tests. Since then he has kept up with his yearly eye checks, saying ‘Regular testing has kept my vision where it needs to be to maintain optimum performance on the track.’
Regular testing can also help spot potential complications early on before they turn into things like glaucoma, cataracts, and even blindness, which pose a much bigger risk for those with diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, being a diabetic increases your chances of glaucoma by 40%, and cataracts by 60%.
This is because diabetes has a direct effect on the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood and other fluids, as well as causing the retina tissue to swell, resulting in blurred vision.
One treatment Ben experienced was eye injections, a relatively new treatment that has been successful in the treatment of diabetes-related eye problems.
It works by injecting a drug, which stops the damaged blood vessels from leaking, into the eyeball. This results in less swelling and better vision, something that has been crucial to Ben’s success as a driver. He says, ‘I wouldn’t be racing without my eye injections.’
He also attributes much of his recent success to the great partnership he has with his sponsor, Dr. Ink, Australia’s leading tattoo removal specialist. Walsh said ‘The business ethos that Dr. Ink have of local business supporting local talent has proved to be an extremely successful relationship for both parties’.
When he’s not racing, he spends his time between Sydney and Noosa, where he owns restaurant and cocktail bar, Miss Moneypenny’s at Noosa Beach. But no matter what is going on in Ben’s life, he maintains regular eye checks as a way of keeping serious complications at bay. He recommends 6-monthly checks for anyone with diabetes.
If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to get regular eye tests, so that any potential problems can spotted early, and the risk of serious complications can be significantly reduced.