Retinopathy in diabetic patients evaluated at a primary care clinic in Cape Town

Read, Olivia ; Cook, Colin (2007-10)

Please cite as follows: Read, O. & Cook, C. 2007. Retinopathy in diabetic patients evaluated at a primary care clinic in Cape Town. South African Medical Journal, 97(10):941-945.

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Diabetic retinopathy is the fifth leading cause of global blindness, affecting an estimated 1.8 billion people and responsible for 4.8% of blindness.1 In South Africa, it is the third leading cause of blindness after cataract and glaucoma, and is responsible for 5% of blindness (0.04% of the total population). Cataract and refractive error are prioritised for the first phase of Vision 2020 in South Africa, while strategies to deal with diabetic retinopathy are recommended as a priority for the second phase.2 These strategies will include provision of adequate screening and argon laser treatment. The prevalence of diabetes differs in different population groups in South Africa. Among black and coloured South Africans, diabetes has risen from 3% to 12% over the past 10 years. Overall, the prevalence is conservatively estimated to be 3 - 5% (30 000 - 50 000 per million population).2 The prevalence of retinopathy in people with diabetes is estimated to be 20% (6 000 - 10 000 per million population), and the prevalence of blindness among these is estimated to be 5% (300 - 500 blind per million population).2 The objective of this study was to evaluate the retinopathy status of patients with diabetes seen at a primary care clinic in Cape Town and to assess the adequacy of the current diabetic screening programmes.

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