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Dec 14, 2021

25 Diabetics Have Lost Their Sight Under COVID-19

More than twenty-five diabetics who suffer from glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy have gone totally blind during COVID. That is the shocking news from Executive Director of the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (B.C.V.I). Musa told News Five today that because of the patients’ fear of potentially catching COVID-19, they did not venture out to seek the eye care they needed. Then, COVID and travel restrictions forced B.C.V.I. to temporarily suspend services and close their doors. And these were the main factors for the diabetics losing their vision

 

Carla Ayres-Musa, Executive Director, B.C.V.I.

“The people in our program who are blind or severely visually impaired, they rely heavily on BCVI providing community-based rehabilitation services. We had to close down for a while and go into emergency mode. Patients are afraid to come in, so because of COVID, our numbers are at half of what they usually are, when we’re talking about screening. In the last year, we have found about fifty people who are blind who waited too long to come to access services to be able to receive treatment. So, you’re looking for example at a cataract patient, that blindness could be reversible. You could have a surgery and you could be able to see again. But, because surgeons, who work with BCVI, fear coming into the country, catching COVID, not being able to go back home, surgeons haven’t come. The Ministry at first, of course, understandably was not allowing them to come in. And we’re looking forward to starting that up again in 2022 and so those cases of blindness can be reversed, we hope. But there are cases of patients with diabetic retinopathy who will not see again because they waited too long to access the service and because we haven’t been able to bring in a steady stream of specialists.”

 

Marion Ali

“How many patients are we talking about that have gone permanently blind – the diabetics I’m talking about.”

 

Carla Ayres-Musa

Carla Ayres-Musa

“So, for diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, two of the five leading causes of blindness, those are irreversible. And of the approximately fifty people that we have more than half are due to glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.”

 

Ayres-Musa says that while these blind patients hail from all over the country, the majority of them come from the northern districts.

 


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