Eyes on Diabetes this November

NOVEMBER 14, 2016

There’s no point looking away and denying reality: diabetes is a major – and growing – epidemic. As many as two million South Africans could be living with diabetes.

Diabetes is characterised by increased blood sugar levels because of not producing enough insulin or because the body does not respond properly to insulin.

Worryingly, one in two adults with diabetes are undiagnosed[1] and the disease is often referred to as the invisible disease. It is much easier to recognise when one knows what to look for – so it’s Eyes on Diabetes for World Diabetes Day on 14 November.

The stakes are high: diabetes is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, lower limb amputations and blindness.

The call-to-action for World Diabetes Day is to be screened for diabetes, firstly to modify the course of the disease and secondly to reduce the risk of complications – like blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy which leads to blindness is the most common eye condition among diabetics. This is an avoidable tragedy in many cases because the risk can be reduced and loss of vision can be limited.

If you have diabetes and treasure the faces of loved ones, the joys of reading and television, the thrill of a sporting victory, and the glow of the sunset, do not let the disease ruin your eyesight – instead get your eyes checked.

Pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) is joining healthcare providers including IPAF (Independent Practitioners Association Foundation) and SEMSDA (Society for Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes SA) in working with medical practitioners around the country to provide blood glucose screening, free of charge, to the public on World Diabetes Day.

“Management of diabetes and its complications begins in primary healthcare, that is, with your GP or local clinic. If you are diagnosed as diabetic, you should undergo eye screening for retinopathy once a year. Eye checks are included in the diabetes treatment guidelines for both private GPs and clinics and patients should ask for one if the healthcare provider does not suggest it,” says Dr Shanil Naidoo, Medical Director of Boehringer Ingelheim South Africa.

So, act today – test to prevent complications of diabetes.

[1] http://www.diabetesatlas.org/across-the-globe.html