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Barnard Castle man who lost legs to diabetes hopes invention from Sedgefield can save his eyes

A grandfather who lost both his legs because of diabetes hopes a pioneering sleep mask designed in the region can save his sight.

David Stoddart has followed all the rules for staying healthy since he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 45 years ago.

But the condition has taken its toll on the 68-year-old, from Barnard Castle, who now relies on a wheelchair after his legs were amputated.

He is also at risk of blindness due to diabetic retinopathy (DR) but hopes the Noctura 400 Sleep Mask, created by health technology firm PolyPhotonix, at NETPark, Sedgefield, can beat it.

Mr Stoddart, who worked at pharmaceuticals company Glaxo Smith Kline before taking early retirement, spoke about diagnosis and his condition before World Diabetes Day on Saturday, November 14.

He said: “I was fit as a butcher’s dog at the time. I played football and county level squash.

“I had lost a bit of weight for no reason and I had an excessive thirst. I was an HGV driver and used to drink bottles and bottles of lemonade every day.”

Once diagnosed, Mr Stoddart, a father-of-two and grandfather-of-three, was in hospital for two weeks while his condition stabilised.

Since then he has religiously attended diabetes clinics, monitored his blood sugar, been careful with his diet and exercised.

But eight years ago he lost his left leg below the knee and two-and-a-half years ago his right leg was amputated above the knee.

He said: “I’m in a wheelchair but I do have a prosthetic left leg and I’m going to have a right leg fitted too, so I am hoping I will walk again.

“The more difficult it is for me to get around, the harder it is for my wife Mabel.

“Losing your legs obviously does hit you hard but I think the toughest thing for me was losing my driving license because of poor peripheral vision.”

He now fears any further loss of freedom which eye damage caused by retinopathy, which results from circulation problems, could lead to.

Instead of continuing with traditional treatments for diabetic eye disease, which usually involve injections into the eyeball or laser therapy, he turned to the Noctura 400.

Last month (October 2015) it featured in an Institute of Engineering and Technology exhibition, in London, celebrating 100 Ideas that Changed the World.

Worn at night, the mask emits a low-level green glow which reduces the eyes’ need for oxygen and stops damage.

He said: “I’ve lost count of the number of laser treatments I’ve had.

“Every time you have laser treatment, it causes scarring.

“I hope the sleep mask can stop any further damage.

“Diabetes ruins your life. It has already taken my legs. I don’t want it to take my eyes as well.”

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