x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Diabetics get wake-up call over eyesight

A fifth of new diabetic patients attending a medical centre for eye tests already have retinal deterioration.

DUBAI // One in five new diabetic patients attending a medical centre for eye tests did not know they already had retinal deterioration.

Staff at Dubai Diabetes Centre say this shows people with diabetes are often unaware of complications they had developed and are too late in seeking medical attention.

Blood vessels can be damaged when a patient's glucose levels fluctuate. This can cause retinal damage, sometimes resulting in total blindness.

"We have been consistently conducting screening for diabetic damage to the eyes and results showed that approximately one in five diabetics are unaware that they already suffer from retinal damage," said Dr Bruno Blanchon, a consultant at Dubai Diabetes Centre, which opened two years ago.

Last year the centre received 1,260 new patients - 678 women and 582 men - and 7,084 follow-up patients.

"Diabetics need to be aware that a reduction in their sugar level is directly related to a reduction in the risk of developing diabetic complications like blindness, heart attacks, strokes and in severe cases, amputations," said Dr M Hamed Farooqi, the director of the centre.

The A1C test, which assesses the average three-month blood sugar level of a diabetic, should have a reading of 7 per cent or less in most cases.

But the centre had come across cases where the reading was 14 per cent, pointing to uncontrolled diabetes.

balqabbani@thenational.ae