November 15, 2016
2 min read

Risk for vision loss remains high for adults with diabetes worldwide

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A quarter of people with diabetes surveyed are not discussing eye complications with their health care professional, with many presenting when vision problems have already occurred, according to recent study findings.

Experts from the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), International Diabetes Federation (IDF), International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Bayer Pharma AG collaborated to conduct the DR Barometer Study, in advance of World Diabetes Day on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The IDF launched the World Diabetes Day 2016 campaign under the theme “Eyes on Diabetes,” with a focus on promoting screening for type 2 diabetes and diabetes complications.

“The theme of this year’s World Diabetes Day is ‘Eyes on Diabetes,’ which reflects how critical we believe the role of eye health to be within diabetes management,” David Cavan, MD, director of policy and programs for the International Diabetes Federation, said in a press release. “The DR Barometer Study offers a number of steps that need to be taken now to prevent further vision loss from diabetes, and we urge governments around the world to seriously consider how current approaches to diabetic eye disease can be improved.”

According to the survey, 79% of people with diabetic retinopathy find that their vision loss makes activities such as driving, going to work and completing basic household tasks difficult, and in some cases, impossible, whereas 20% of people with diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema also report that changes in their vision leave them less able to manage their disease.

“Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in the working-age population of most developed countries, and the sight loss caused by this condition can have a profound impact on both an individual’s quality of life and their ability to work,” Peter Ackland, chief executive officer of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), said in a press release. “[Diabetic retinopathy] and [diabetic macular edema] can be successfully managed with the right screening and treatment; however, many people with diabetes are being placed at unnecessary risk of vision loss due to barriers within the referral system and patient care pathway.”

According to the survey, both ophthalmologists and adults with diabetes who participated in the study reported “long waiting times to schedule an appointment” as a major barrier to optimizing eye health. One in three people with diabetes surveyed also cited cost and waiting times at the clinic as prohibitive issues. Half of all providers surveyed reported having no written protocols for the detection and management of diabetes-related vision issues.

Close to two-thirds of ophthalmologists surveyed believe that late diagnosis is the greatest barrier to improving outcomes, with over half revealing that people with diabetes present when vision problems have already occurred and in many cases when it is too late for treatment.

The researchers are calling for increased education for people with diabetes and health care professionals regarding the prevention, detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.

For further information and to download the full results of the DR Barometer, visit