Diabetes is a huge and growing burden: 415 million adults were living with diabetes in 2015, and this number is expected to increase to around 642 million by 2040 . One of the great challenges with this later numbers is that 1 in 2 adults with diabetes are undiagnosed (most of these cases are type 2 diabetes) . This means that many people with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes already have complications such as retinopathy, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and neuropathy.The Issue
Over one third of people with diabetes will develop vision loss . The personal and social costs of vision loss threaten to overwhelm health and social care systems. Everyone with diabetes is at risk of losing vision due to diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy occurs as a direct result of chronic high blood sugar, causing damage to the small blood vessels of the retina.
Some of the risk factors for developing retinopathy are duration of diabetes, high blood glucose (sugar) levels, and high blood pressure.
Many diabetes complications can be picked up in their early stages by screening programmes that allow treatment to prevent them from becoming more serious. Early detection and timely treatment of diabetic retinopathy can prevent vision loss – 80% of all blindness can be prevented.
We want to create awareness about the importance of early screening programmers, and this year’s World Diabetes Day theme was a perfect occasion to join the fight against blindness.
This experience was priceless, as it gave us the opportunity to talk to the general public about the importance of early screening and treatment of diabetic retinopathy. And more importantly, we were able to use our setup to provide screenings for everyone interested.
With our handheld camera, we took photos of the retina, then used the RetinaLyze software to detect signs of diabetic retinopathy – receiving a result in a matter of seconds. Hereafter it was a matter of spending time discussing the findings with the individual and making sure that they were appropriately informed about the nature of the findings.
We had a total of nearly 100 screenings, but talked to many more. Some were diagnosed diabetics and already went to regular screenings, others were interested in more information and/or a free screening based on various reasons:
 IDF Diabetes Atlas 7th edition www.idf.org/diabetesatlas www.idf.org/diabetesatlas
 Diabetes Eye Health: A Guide for Health www.idf.org/eyehealth