• 640 million individuals or 10% of the world population will suffer from diabetes by 2040
  • For a 10% reduction in HbA1c there is a remarkable 39% decrease in the risk of retinopathy progression
  • People living with diabetes for more than two decades have an 85% likelihood of encountering mild to severe retinopathy

Ras Al Khaimah, UAE - RAK Hospital continues its unwavering commitment to educating and guiding the community on the impact of the epidemic of diabetes, addressing one of the pressing health concerns in the United Arab Emirates—Diabetic Retinopathy. In the wake of alarming global diabetes statistics, the hospital hosted a webinar as part of the RAK Diabetes Challenge, offering a deep dive into the risks, prevention, and treatments for this vision-threatening condition.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) forecast, it’s estimated that by 2040, more than 640 million individuals, or approximately 10% of the world's population, will suffer from diabetes. This pandemic extends its shadow over the UAE, where 25% of the population is expected to be impacted.

Dr. Mohit Jain, Specialist Ophthalmologist at RAK Hospital during the latest webinar took center stage to provide valuable insights into Diabetic Retinopathy:

Blindness and Diabetes: Dr. Mohit stressed that diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, particularly among young working adults, with an alarming one in three individuals with diabetes developing retinopathy at some point in their lives.

Aging and Vision Risks: The prevalence of retinopathy in diabetics aged 40 and above is a concerning 34.6%, with 10.2% facing the ominous threat of vision loss.

Long-Term Impact: Disturbingly, those living with diabetes for more than two decades have an 85% likelihood of encountering mild to severe retinopathy.

Risk Factors: Dr. Mohit emphasized the implication of uncontrolled blood sugar and blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption as significant risk factors for diabetic retinopathy.

Dr. Mohit Jain underlined that the early stages of diabetic retinopathy often manifest without noticeable symptoms. Some individuals may experience difficulties in reading or seeing distant objects. As the condition progresses, blood vessels in the retina may begin to bleed, leading to visible symptoms like dark, floating spots or streaks.

A strong correlation exists between the risk of retinopathy progression and HbA1c levels. For each 10% reduction in HbA1c (e.g., from 9% to 8.1%), there is a remarkable 39% decrease in the risk of retinopathy progression. Early intervention is pivotal, with the most effective treatment modality being the administration of Anti-VEGF drugs through direct injection into the eye, capable of effectively slowing or reversing diabetic retinopathy.

Dr. Mohit Jain also shared that retinal laser therapy is deployed to manage abnormal blood vessels in the retina, thus preventing complications like bleeding, retinal contraction, and detachment. In advanced stages, a retinal surgery named 'vitrectomy' becomes necessary to address excessive bleeding, scarring, and retinal contraction to safeguard vision.

Despite the presence of effective treatments, public awareness about Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) remains disconcertingly low. Early intervention holds a remarkable 90% effectiveness rate in controlling and reversing retinopathy. Regrettably, a lack of knowledge and understanding impedes access to healthcare facilities and undermines the effectiveness of prevention, treatment, and reversal efforts.

Dr. Mohit Jain concluded the webinar by underlining the eye's pivotal role as a window to the body. He referenced Google's groundbreaking Body Health Predictor, which employs eye examinations to accurately identify and predict various organ ailments, including cardiac issues. This highlights the pivotal importance of eye health within the broader context of overall well-being.

For more information on the RAK Diabetes Challenge 2023 and to know the schedule of the upcoming webinars, please visit,  https://www.rakdiabeteschallenge.com/