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Diabetes and the eye

Diabetic retinopathy


In 2015, diabetic retinopathy was the leading cause of vision loss in the world, and 1 in 3 persons with diabetes had one or more signs of diabetes retinopathy.

In these people with diabetic retinopathy, one third of them had vision threatening diabetic retinopathy.

With the prevalence of diabetes projected to increase especially in developing countries, diabetic retinopathy (DR) will also increase and might lead to increased cases of vision loss in the age working population with loss in the working force and increased burden for the countries.

The important clinical risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy are hyperglycemia, hypertension and duration of the disease.

There are 2 clinical stages of diabetic retinopathy, the non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) which the early stage, and the proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).

Patients with NPDR are clinical asymptomatic but signs of DR like microaneurysm, hemorrhage and hard exudes can be detected on fundus photography.

PDR is the advanced stage of DR with neovascularization. At this stage patients might have severe vision impairment caused by bleeding from these new abnormal vessel in the vitreous or caused by traction retinal detachment.

Optimum control of plasma glucose, blood pressure and serum lipid is recommended to minimize the risk or slow down the progression of DR.

Timely screening and treatment of DR is also highly recommended. In type 1 diabetes patients, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends the initial eye examination 5 years after the diagnosis of diabetes, and for type 2 diabetes it is recommended that patients be screening immediately at the time of diagnosis.

Follow up eye examination are scheduled depending whether or not there is evidence of DR.

To mark this year world diabetes day which is celebrated on November 14th every year, Rwanda Diabetes Association is organizing free DR screening which is taking place at its clinic located at Kinamba.

During this period, from November 11-15, diabetes patients will be screened for DR. They will also have their plasma glucose and blood pressure checked and will be provided guidance and advices depending on their results.

Everyone is welcome.