Cataract linked to diabetes

The leading cause of avoidable blindness in PNG is cataract – the clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye.

For diabetics, the risk is higher as diabetes develops cataract faster.

People with diabetes can have an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy – an increasing cause of blindness worldwide.

This is when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the tissue at the back of the eye (retina). 

According to Dr Amyna Sultan, director Pacific International Hospital, the prevalence of diabetes/ high sugar is increasing in PNG.

She is also an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) and stresses that a baseline eye examination is important for diabetics.

However, a survey carried out in the National Capital District revealed that 80 percent of people do not get a baseline eye examination once they are diagnosed with diabetes and on an ongoing basis.

Dr Sultan is urging all general physicians to refer any patient they’ve diagnosed with diabetes for a further visit to an eye specialist.

“It is essential for an eye doctor or a nurse to examine the back of the eye to determine whether they have diabetic retinopathy or not. Because if they have diabetic changes and these are picked up early, we can provide treatment when there is a window of opportunity.

“When they show up and they already have bleeding at the back of the eye from the diabetes, there’s nothing that can be done,” she said.

Dr Sultan says awareness and advocacy on this is important, especially to the older people in villages and communities.

Gloria Bauai