Dr James Muecke. Picture: Matt Turner

By Marika Sboros

Australian ophthalmologist Dr James Muecke has clear vision. He wakes each day and sees in graphic, gory detail a threat hanging over the lives of fellow Australians.

It is not the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is that each day, 250 people will develop type 2 diabetes. They do so “unnecessarily”, Muecke says, because type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease. It also makes people “more susceptible to pandemics”, he says. That claim is controversial but evidence-based and many MDs and researchers internationally endorse it.

Muecke is more than halfway through his time as 2020 Australian of the Year. He won the award for three decades preventing and treating blindness in some of the world’s poorest countries. His focus now is fighting a leading cause of adult blindness worldwide: type 2 diabetes.