- The cost of the disease to an individual and society is enormous. But also, the onset of complications has an impact on longevity.
- The life expectancy of individuals with diabetes mellitus is reduced by 5-10 percent.
Diabetes mellitus, one of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) leading to the body’s failure to control blood sugar levels, mounts to complications that affect quality of life.
The cost of the disease to an individual and society is enormous. But also, the onset of complications has an impact on longevity.
The life expectancy of individuals with diabetes mellitus is reduced by 5-10 percent.
Diabetes, also known to be the commonest reason for heart disease, kidney complications and amputation, has been found to cause blindness among people of the working age group.
Now that the disease is associated with such devastating complications, the main focus should be on the prevention, early detection and initial management of complications of in adult diabetic patients.
Yet the cost of the disease is predicted to rise in our settings. A recent report in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology Commission on Diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa, the cost associated with the disease could more than double and may reach up to $59.3 billion per year by 2030.
According to the report, the cost of curbing diabetes will increase from $3.8 billion in 2015 to up to $16.2 billion in 2030 in Eastern Africa, namely Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Who develops complications?
The risk of developing complications is not uniform for everyone with diabetes.
For kidney complications in particular, there is a strong genetic influence. Duration of diabetes, glucose control, hypertension and smoking are the strongest risk factors.
Diabetes and blindness
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a condition known as Diabetic Retinopathy [diabetes complication that affects eyes], is the cause of blindness in approximately 5 per cent of individuals globally.
It’s caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina). At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems, medical sources show.
The condition is common in Blacks and Hispanics compared to Whites. In Type 2 Diabetes mellitus and it is present in about one third of individuals who are diagnosed by diabetes.
What to do to prevent complications?
Glucose control: Better the glucose control, lower the risk of complications
Blood pressure: Tight control of blood pressure lowers the risk of complications too.
Lipids: Lowering lipids level also lowers the risk of complications
Smoking: Smokers have high chances of getting complications
Early detection and treatment
It is important that you should plan your visit to see your eye specialist as soon as you have been diagnosed as a diabetic patient, so that your assessment for diabetic retinopathy can be performed.
If you have a complaint of poor vision in one or both eyes the also you should plan and visit your eye specialist immediately.
Your eye specialist will undertake a few tests such checking your vision and your glass presciption if any. The specialist may also put some drops in your eyes and take some photographs and other tests to find out whether you have any changes in your eyes due to diabetes. Depending upon the changes, the eye specialist may advise you to come back after six months or advise you to go for the treatment.
Laser is the mainstay of treatment in diabetic retinopathy, the benefits of laser treatment greatly overweigh the risks.
The aim of the treatment is to stabilise the changes caused in your eyes by your diabetes.
In practice, the medication is injected into the eye. The main effect of the medication is to absorb the blood and decrease the swelling caused by diabetic retinopathy.