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Nov 13, 2018

Dealing with Diabetes and Blindness

Known as one of the most deadly non-communicable diseases, diabetes can cause an array of life complications. One of those complications is diabetic retinopathy, or simply, blindness.  Today, the Ministry of Health held an informational session in Belize City where participants learned how to prevent diabetic retinopathy. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

One of the top five killers in Belize is diabetes with more than fifty thousand Belizeans between the ages of twenty and seventy-nine living with the non-communicable disease. Diabetes impairs the body’s ability to process blood glucose. Not properly managed, diabetes can lead to the buildup of sugar in the blood which can cause dangerous and life-altering complications such as stroke and blindness. Eighty percent of blindness caused by diabetes can be prevented according to Health Planner, Donovan Cacho of the Ministry of Health. With this in mind, the Ministry embarked on a one-day training session on the prevention of blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy.

 

Donovan Cacho

Donovan Cacho, Health Planner, Ministry of Health

“Aside from getting their medication and doing their checkup is to include the eyes in that because many times people find out that their diabetic when they go check the yes because they feel they are not seeing or something is wrong with their vision. That’s when they will make the diagnosis there and we have to refer them back to the general practitioner we want to reverse that. We want to increase awareness and people come in.”

 

The fact that poorly managed diabetes can lead to blindness is not known by many patients.

 

Donovan Cacho

“When they hear about diabetes they might think about a limb and not the eyes. They might feel that they just need glasses. They might go out and get a pair of glasses from an ordinary shop but they need to come in. The thing is that with retinopathy you would not see it physically every day. It is something that sneaks up on you. So you will be thinking that you will be seeing well today and the following week you may develop a blood clot in the eyes and it ruptures and blindness. So we don’t want this happening to our young people in Belize. It would be too late when you already have retinopathy and you have a rupture in the eye and you are blind. That’s irreversible when you are blind; there is nothing that can be done.”  

 

But it can be prevented by early screening.

 

Martin Turns

Martin Turns, Diabetes Specialist Podiatrist

“Diabetes is not a benign and insipid disease. It does affect the body and they need to know that it affects the feet in several fears. People with diabetes have a great fear of going blind and losing a limb. They need to identify foot problems early and refer early. And also people with diabetes need to also identify foot problems and seek advice.”

 

Advice for diabetic retinopathy can be sought at the offices of the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired free of cost.  Participating in today’s session was Martin Turns, diabetes Specialist Podiatrist from the United Kingdom.

 

Martin Turns

“The foot complication is also linked very closely to all the others complications with diabetes so the importance really the control of blood glucose. That is ultimately what the aim is. Also smoking, people with diabetes should try to stop smoking really hard because that is one thing that can cause a lot of problems with the arteries particularly. Diabetes has problems with the feet, affecting the nerves and arteries and causing an increase of foot infections.”

 

…foot infections which can lead to amputation if not treated properly and early. Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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