‘Retinopathy main cause of blindness’

DIABETIC retinopathy, a diabetic complication that affects the eyes, is one of the main causes of blindness among the working age group, says Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete.

He said this was why it imposed an economic burden on any country and Fiji was no different.

“Diabetic retinopathy is listed by the World Health Organization as a priority eye disease and it is estimated that annually, it contributes to 2.6 per cent of blindness in the world,” he said while officiating at the conclusion of the Five Year Diabetic Retinopathy Program at the Holiday Inn Suva last night.

Dr Waqainabete said for prevention of blindness, early detection and treatment of sight threatening diabetic retinopathy was essential.

He also said that confronting the problem of diabetic retinopathy needed a team of dedicated, empathetic, responsive and patient health care workers implementing an integrated, sustainable program within the health system between healthcare providers and the community.

He said this was because laser treatment was not a one-off treatment, but a journey of many treatments over the years.

Meanwhile, the five-year program was funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust through the Fred Hollow Foundation NZ in Fiji.

Since its inception, the program has screened more than 20,000 patients of which 5389 had received laser treatment.

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