Mexico: Diabetic retinopathy affects one in three patients

One in three diabetic patients develop retinopathy, a silent disease that can cause blindness, but is poorly understood by physicians at public health institutions.

Mexican Council of Ophthalmology stated that a person with diabetes takes 5-15 years to develop this complication, as per the care and clinical control they maintain. However, in half the cases there is delay in diagnosis by the general practitioner.

Diabetic retinopathy is the third leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. It is characterized by a gradual loss of vision due to the deterioration caused in the blood vessels of the retina by the elevated levels of glucose. This disease “is not very well known” by the first level doctors responsible for providing care and follow-up to diabetic patients, especially those who attend public institutions.

Reviews every six months prevents complications such as the formation of macular edema, which causes irreversible blindness. Although retinopathy is not curable, its progression can be reversed by an injection of antiangiogenic drugs, which regulate the formation of blood vessels within the eye.

According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) for Latin America, Mexico has a high prevalence of diabetes but lacks awareness and sufficient services. The International Diabetes Federation and the International Federation on Old Age, surveyed patients with diabetes and retinopathy in Mexico and found that almost 20% never talked to their doctor about eye complications and 28% did so once symptoms appeared.

In addition, 43% of diabetic patients surveyed did not believe that their disease is well controlled and are four times more concerned about vision loss than about cardiovascular diseases that diabetes can bring. The results of the study reveal a lag in ophthalmological care for patients with diabetes, for not only those who live in cities but those in the most remote rural areas.


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