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World Diabetes Day 2016

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World Diabetes Day 2016

Since its creation in 1991, World Diabetes Day is held annually on November 14th by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization.  The theme this year was "Eyes on Diabetes" and the focus was eye health. While diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema are dire conditions, they do not receive appropriate attention from diabetics or from the physicians who treat them.

According to a Medscape report, a consortium of international organizations banded together to study the impact of diabetes and eye health. As part of this effort, an international survey of both diabetes patients and physicians who treat them was performed.  The results from the survey revealed that vision issues related to the disease did not receive the level of importance warranted in terms of vision exams and preventative care for vision issues.

Furthermore, the survey demonstrated that patients were largely unaware of their own vision impairment issues resulting from their diabetes.  79 percent of the patient respondents were aware their vision loss had directly affected important life activities such as driving, working and performing basic household tasks associated with daily living. Beyond that, 20% of the respondents who had diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema reported that these conditions made the daily management of their diabetes much more challenging.

From the physician perspective, the survey reported that globally, 50% of medical professionals responding lacked sufficient access to guidance on diabetic retinopathy. This breakdown in collaboration likely ensures that patients with this condition are not receiving the proper medical direction from their practitioners in understanding and managing the condition. 

The Medscape report also pointed out that since 1980, diabetes in the world has quadrupled to an estimated 415 million people. That is 1 out of every 11 adults.  Dealing with this disease is further complicated by the fact that approximately 75 percent of the world's diabetic population live in low to middle income countries.

The report, as well as the supporting international organizations responsible for the research, strongly advises governments around the world to prioritize eye health as the global health spend to treat diabetes and manage its complications will eclipse $673 billion USD in 2016. 

Medscape article:

Link to the Diabetic Retinopathy Barometer Survey: