By Alexa Kaczka
People suffering from diabetes have been warned to have their eyes tested regularly if they want to eliminate the risk of losing their vision.
Many suffers of the condition go on to develop diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness if not treated, though frequent trips to an eyecare professional can help to indentify the disease early.
This is one of the key messages coming out of the World Ophthalmology Congress in Abu Dhabi, where experts explained the condition, which can go undetected for years without patients even experiencing symptoms.
Experts estimate that between 40 and 45 per cent of people diagnosed with diabetes have some form of diabetic retinopathy, with both type 1 and type 2 sufferers at risk.
It occurs when tiny blood vessels in the retina well up and cause blood to leak out, eventually causing blindness in some cases, though there is a simple way for diabetics to limit their risk of it developing, noted Dr Manal Taryam, vice president of the WOC and a consultant ophthalmologist at Dubai Health Authority.
"Some people can have diabetic retinopathy but not know they have it until it is too late. Diabetes is one of the diseases that causes blindness, but screenings have been designed to diagnose it in the early stages," she told the National.
As a result, Dr Taryam and her fellow eyecare experts at the congress are attempting to raise awareness of the threat of the condition and urge people to pay regular visits to have their vision checked.
She noted that many ophthalmologists are currently advising diabetic practitioners to refer their patients for eye screenings, as advances in technology have made it "simpler and better" to treat the condition.
The 12th annual World Ophthalmology Congress, which ended today, saw 12,000 ophthalmologists descend on the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre to discuss ways of raising awareness of, and eliminating, some of the leading causes of blindness across the planet, including diabetic retinopathy.
by Adrian Galbreth