World Diabetes Day, observed annually on November 14th, underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to diabetes, recognizing it as a complex multisystem condition. While diabetes is associated with elevated blood sugar levels, its far-reaching impact extends to various organ systems, leading to complications such as heart disease, kidney dysfunction, neuropathy, and retinopathy. In this context, the aspect of eye health cannot be overlooked.
The number of people living with diabetes is increasing globally along with the rapid economic growth and urbanization. This condition not only compromises individual’s functional capacity and quality of life, but also results in significant associated complications and even premature death.
Image on top: In the Kashkadarya region of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Examination of the fundus by an ophthalmologist with a fundus camera in a patient with diabetes, Manzura Sodykova, 68 years old, living in a remote rural region/ Nilufar Ibragimova
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common complication of diabetes in the eyes. High blood sugar levels can damage the delicate blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision problems. If left uncontrolled, it potentially causes blindness. It is recognised as one of the leading causes of preventable blindness among working age adults. Studies have established that DR is the early and reliable predictor of cascading diabetic complications. Therefore, early detection and management is vital in preventing the progression of diabetes and DR itself.
Diabetes care is often siloed in many health systems, and merely includes monitoring blood glucose level. People with diabetes are frequently diagnosed with the condition when they develop complications, for e.g. reduced vision. There is significant lack of information given to people living with diabetes, which is critical to prevent the risks of complications. While diabetes is a condition involving elevated blood glucose, the complications are most often debilitating and the cause of death in individuals with diabetes.
This year, in line with the theme ‘Access to Diabetes Care’, IAPB calls upon the global community to demonstrate solidarity to prevent and treat diabetes by integrating eye health care within diabetes care and making the integrated care available and accessible to all. By adopting a multisector approach involving healthcare, education, government, and community efforts, we can emphasize the well-being of individuals living with diabetes.