DIABETES remains a huge issue among Fijians with about 30 per cent suffering from the disease.
And one of the key issues linked to diabetes is blindness, an issue of concern to Dr Biu Sikivou, acting director of the Pacific Eye Institute (PEI).
"For the Fiji figures we have prevalence of about 0.8 per cent of blindness, so roughly about 8000 people are blind in Fiji and 25,000 have visual impairment," said Dr Sikivou.
Dr Sikivou is working with a growing team of dedicated ophthalmologists to tackle the issue of diabetes and blindness throughout Fiji and the Pacific.
Her speciality is in the area of diabetic retinopathy, an irreversible disease that is caused by diabetes and creates damage to the back of the eye, which leads to vision impairment or blindness although early screening can prevent vision loss.
"The prevalence rate (of diabetes) continues to increase so we will expect to see more people with diabetes eye problems," said Dr Sikivou, as she reflected on figures of around 16 per cent in 2006.
In the diabetes department at PEI, Dr Sikivou and her team see more than 6000 patients annually. Out that, they perform around 1000 laser sessions yearly, along with 2000 screenings at the another 1200 from the outreach program.