Diabetes is a leading cause of poor eyesight and blindness worldwide. Because the changes are painless and gradual, people often only realize they have a problem when their eyesight finally begins to fail. At that point, it can be too late to improve or restore vision.
It is therefore vital that all people with diabetes have their eyes examined regularly by trained personnel who know what to look for and who can provide advice and treatment. If people can control blood glucose levels and blood pressure, they can reduce the risk of changes in blood vessels. And even when changes do occur, it is possible to slow down the process with timely treatment.
Each year, diabetes becomes more common, mainly due to aging populations and the rise of obesity. Its prevalence has nearly doubled in the past 35 years, with the increase greatest in low-and middle-income countries.
Some 422 million people now live with diabetes. The disease shortens lives and, if not managed, can cause severe complications such as amputations, strokes or kidney failure. It has devastating impacts on household budgets and national economies.
On this international day, let us keep our Eyes on Diabetes. Let us focus both on prevention and strengthening health services so that everyone who has this debilitating disease can receive the support he or she needs.