Eye Surgeon Who Works To Prevent Blindness Named Australian Of The Year

Dr James Muecke, an eye surgeon from Adelaide, has been awarded Australian of the Year and says he plans to use his newfound title to raise awareness about type 2 diabetes.

Dr Muecke began his medical career in Kenya, but has most recently turned his focus to type 2 diabetes - the leading cause of blindness in adults.

He said he plans to use his national platform to challenge Australians' perception of sugar and the impact it has on the development of type 2 diabetes.

"What an enormous honour, what a tremendous honour," Dr Muecke said at the ceremony in Canberra as he accepted the award.



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"I want to challenge our relationship with sugar and its relationship to diabetes... How it is as toxic and addictive as nicotine and it should be treated as such," he said.

"Diabetes is the biggest cause of blindness in Aboriginals and the sixth biggest killer in the country," he added.

Awards also went to Queensland tennis sensation Ash Barty (Young Australian), WA obstetrics specialist Professor John Newnham (Senior Australian) and NSW youth advocate Bernie Shakeshaft (Local Hero).

With smoke from nearby bushfires in the air outside the ceremony venue, Mr Morrison paid tribute to all those involved in tackling the emergency or impacted by it.

"They - like the nominees here tonight - are demonstrating to us that our national story is one of great achievement, but also of pain, of effort, sweat," he said.

With AAP