Diabetic retinopathy becoming a leading cause of blindness, experts warn

By Khetam Malkawi
DUBAI — Diabetes is a major public health crisis affecting nearly 28 per cent of Jordanians, according to Mohammed Abu Ameerh, associate professor at the University of Jordan’s (UJ) ophthalmology department.

With the increasing prevalence of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy (DR) is emerging as a leading cause of avoidable blindness among the working age population, Abu Ameerh explained this week at a press conference on the sidelines of FOCUS, a lynchpin regional conference hosted by the pharmaceutical division of Bayer Middle East in Dubai with the participation of 450 ophthalmology experts from 14 countries.

Approximately 48 per cent of people living with diabetes have some degree of DR, added Abu Ameerh, who is also a senior vitreo-retinal surgeon at UJ Hospital and Prince Hamzah Hospital. 

“The vast majority, almost 95 per cent, of DR cases can be prevented by early detection and treatment. However, since DR is generally asymptomatic in its early stages, it is vital that every person with diabetes has an annual eye check-up, during which [he/she] are screened for potential diabetes-related consequences,” the expert said. 

Participants at the FOCUS discussed advances in treating DR, which can lead to vision impairment and blindness and that affects nearly one-third of an estimated 422 million people with diabetes worldwide. 

They also put forth recommendations for prevention and improved treatment outcomes, at the forefront of which is early detection and timely treatment.  

Speaking at the press conference, Shaukat Sadikot, president of the International Diabetes Federation, said that every seven seconds in 2011, a person died of diabetes-related complications. 

This rate, he added, increased in 2015, when one person died every six seconds due to these complications.

“We are in a war against diabetes,” Sadikot warned, adding that this disease is the leading cause of blindness in the world.

He also noted that few years ago, type 2 diabetes used to be prevalent among those in advanced age category or above 45 years old and who are mostly obese. But nowadays, it is also affecting youngsters due to lifestyle changes and lack of exercise, in addition to other contributing factors.

Sadikot called on governments, health service providers and the media to join forces to combat diabetes, stressing that “there is no time now to play the blame game… we have to come together and do something about it”….

Read more: http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/diabetic-retinopathy-becoming-leading-cause-blindness-experts-warn

Source: Jordan Times