Study shows high prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in sub-Saharan Africa
HAMBURG — The prevalence of sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy in the sub-Saharan regions of Africa demands urgent development of diabetic eye services, a speaker said at the Euretina meeting here.
“Prevalence of [sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy] is 6 times higher compared to the data reported in recent European studies; prevalence of proliferative diabetic retinopathy is over 10 times higher,” Phil Burgess, MD, said.
A total of 357 patients presenting at two diabetes clinics in Malawi were recruited for a 24-month prospective study investigating the presence of retinopathy.
“Diabetic retinopathy was present in 50% of the patients. Using a modified Wisconsin grading criteria, we were able to classify it as sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy in 30% of the cases and as proliferative diabetic retinopathy in 7.3% of the cases,” Burgess said.
Visual acuity was 20/60 or worse in 3.6% of the patients. The presence of sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy was associated with high systolic blood pressure and uncontrolled glycemic levels.
“This information is vital to convince policy makers of the need for future planning and development of diabetes services in the region. It is in comparison with these data that the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of future interventions can be assessed,” Burgess said.
Disclosure: Burgess has no relevant financial disclosures.