Complex Made Simple

Dubai Health Authority’s smart clinic discusses eye care to mark World Sight Day

Diabetes retinopathy leading cause of irreversible blindness in the UAE

Dubai Health Authority( DHA) held today a smart clinic to discuss several aspects of eye care to mark World Sight Day 2015.

Information was disseminated via the Authority’s Twitter page (DHA_Dubai), Instagram account and periscope.

Dr Abdulla Al Naqi, Acting Head of ophthalmology at Dubai Hospital highlighted the top causes of blindness in the UAE and important steps to prevent reversible and irreversible blindness.

Dr. Naqi said: “Diabetes is the number one cause of irreversible blindness in the UAE followed by Glaucoma, which is caused due to increased pressure in the eye; whereas cataract is the major cause of reversible blindness in the UAE and worldwide.

“Approximately twenty per cent of the UAE population has diabetes, that’s one in five people. The prevalence of this disease is high and so are the complications. Diabetic eye disease comprises of a group of eye conditions that affect people with diabetes. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract, and glaucoma. All forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness. However, blindness due to retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults. The biggest challenge in treating this disease is that diabetic retinopathy often goes unnoticed until vision loss occurs. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that diabetics should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every year and earlier if requested by their retina specialist.

Dr Naqi said patients with diabetes retinopathy should visit an ophthalmologist and not a general optometrist if they want to treat their diabetes retinopathy accurately. “Nowadays there are many injections available to treat early stages of diabetes retinopathy.”

Dr Naqi emphasised that controlling diabetes is key to preventing or delaying diabetes related complications including diabetes eye diseases. The main reason for the high rate of such complications is that patients do not take care of their sugar early on and/or miss follow-ups with their doctors. Patient education, multidisciplinary treatment, regular screenings, diet and exercise are all important components that are needed to control diabetes and its complications.

“Simple steps such as taking medications as prescribed, staying physically active, and maintaining a healthy diet can prevent or delay vision loss,” said Dr Naqi.

He added that there is a direct link between controlled blood sugar levels and improved patient outcomes.

In terms of cataract, he said: “Secondary cataract may develop in people who have general health problems such as diabetes. Cataracts are also linked to long term steroid use. If people want to delay the development of cataract, they should protect their eyes from sunlight, avoid smoking and eat a healthy diet.”

Other diseases that can cause eye problems include juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, adult arthritis, some infections, kidney disease etc. Therefore people suffering from these problems should get eye screenings regularly.

Some forms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can cause eye inflammation (uveitis). If this condition is left untreated, it may result in cataracts, glaucoma and even blindness.

Eye inflammation frequently occurs without symptoms, so it’s important for children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to be examined regularly by an ophthalmologist.