Diabetic Retinopathy in Africa: Advantages of Screening Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • To review the epidemiology of diabetic retinopathy (DR) in Africa and discuss the various methods of screening for the disease. Review of the peer-reviewed articles in PubMed, Google, and Scirus about DR published from 1985 to 2010. Articles in all languages were considered, provided that the non-English articles included English abstracts. Screening for DR can significantly prevent the loss of vision resulting from long-standing diabetes mellitus. Screening is also financially advantageous for both patients and health care systems. Several screening methods can be employed by primary care providers, who over the past 20 years have become responsible for the treatment and follow-up of patients with diabetes rather than hospitals. An additional concern for screening in African countries is the inefficient referral to ophthalmologists, given their scarce distribution in the African population. Finally, education of both the patient population and caregivers should be included as an essential component of screening programs. As of now, African health care systems are not prepared to deal with the increasing burden of diabetes and its complications. With inappropriate glycemic or blood pressure control, most patients will only seek care once micro- or macrovascular complications have already developed. Given the current difficulty in providing costly therapeutic interventions, a well-planned, cost-effective prevention strategy is required.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011