MORE than 40 per cent of adults in the country aged 40 years and above have diabetes, says the Ministry of Health.
And the existing diabetes eye clinic at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital has been inundated with patients in need of laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy.
Last year, 6348 patients visited the clinic — up from just over 4500 in 2010.
That equates to around 30 patient visits a day. This was revealed by the Ministry of Health yesterday.
Dr Biu Sikivou, consultant ophthalmologist at the Diabetic Eye Clinic and associate director of the Pacific Eye Institute said there was a need for a diabetes eye care services in and around Suva and the existing clinic was too small to meet the demand.
Ministry of Health permanent secretary for Dr Eloni Tora said last year, the New Zealand Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) trained 44 Pacific eye health workers, restored the sight of 4786 people, screened and treated 6357 patients at the old diabetes eye clinic, held 14 surgical outreach programs in remote communities and dispensed 11,203 pairs of spectacles.
Dr Tora said the cost of eye clinics in recent cases was too expensive and the cost varied depending on the stage of eye problems.
The World Health Organisation stated that 177 million suffer from diabetes and the number is likely to increase to 370 million in 2030.
Dr Tora said downstream and upstream principles were tackling non-communicable diseases and he had encouraged stakeholders to work on wellness "low cost max impact".
WHO says the number of deaths attributed to diabetes was previously estimated at just over 800,000 globally.
However, it said the number of deaths related to diabetes was considerably underestimated.
A more plausible figure is likely to be around 4 million deaths per year related to the presence of the disorder.
Many of these diabetes related deaths are from cardiovascular complications.
Most of them are premature deaths when the people concerned are economically contributing to society.
This situation is increasingly outstretching the health-care resources devoted to diabetes.
The Ministry says Pacific-wide incidence rates are among the highest in the world and the need for diabetes eye care services will continue to grow.
Dr Sikivou urged people with diabetes to come to the Diabetic Eye Clinic for screening and treatment as soon as possible.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition where blood vessels in the retina are damaged as a complication of diabetes, causing vision loss and even blindness.
Early detection and treatment can prevent up to 98 per cent of severe vision loss and it is vital that patients are screened and treated as soon as possible.