Published: 10 March 2020 at 15:22
The Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI) is committed to reducing the risk of blindness due to diabetes
Diabetes affects people all over the world and its prevalence is set to increase worldwide in years to come.
A serious complication of uncontrolled diabetes is blindness. The NHS spends around £14billion a year on treating complications of diabetes - that equates to £1.5million an hour! Diabetic retinopathy is a major cause of preventable blindness in the working population worldwide, leading to reduced quality of life and social isolation.
Patients who are at high risk of diabetic blindness are also those who need most help. These groups include: Older patients, longer-term patients, women, those from lower socio-economic and education backgrounds, patients who struggle to control their diabetes, and those from South Asian or Afro-Caribbean backgrounds. People from these demographics are three to six times more likely to develop diabetes and complications of diabetes.
Our research in the UK and worldwide has shown patients most at risk of developing diabetic blindness also don’t know how to prevent it. These patients are also not aware of need for good diabetes control, and that regular retinal screening for diabetes can save them from blindness. Timely treatment of diabetic retinopathy can reduce the risk of blindness by 60-90%.
Our research has shown the prevalence of diabetic blindness in these vulnerable groups is highest, and is preventable with proper patient engagement, improved education and regular uptake of retinal screening. We have found barriers that influence risk of blindness, and we have developed strategies to reduce this in at-risk patients.
Professor Shahina Pardhan
Director, Vision and Eye Research Institute