Dr. Stephen Akafo, lecturer at the Ophthalmologic Unit of the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) on Wednesday called for the creation of awareness on the effects of diabetes on eyesight among primary diabetic patients in Ghana.
"Some diabetic patients have been living with the disease for 20 to 50 years and attending hospital regularly but the physicians do not tell them to go for an eye examination and it turns out later that the patient experiences chronic eyesight problems."
Dr. Akafo was speaking at a public lecture on the topic: "Diabetes and the eye" organised by the Ghana Eye Foundation and the Opthalmological Society of Ghana.
It was on the theme: "Eyes on the future-Fighting vision impairment in later life".
Dr. Akafo said many physicians fail to conduct screening tests for Diabetic Retinopathy, which is caused by the leakage of materials such as water and proteins from the blood vessels into the retina.
"We need to increase the number of physicians who conduct screening tests for diabetic retinopathy and rational policies regarding technologies for tackling Diabetic Retinopathy must be implemented," he said.
He said risk factors that affect the retina include duration of one's Diabetic status, level of control of the disease, hypertension, kidney disease and age.
"Diabetic Retinopathy remains the major sight threatening eye disease in the working age population in the developed world. By the year 2030, 851,000 people face the risk of contracting diabetes and 140,415 for diabetic retinopathy," he said.
Dr. Akafo said treatment modalities for diabetic retinopathy include laser treatment, Vitero-retinal surgery and intraocular injections.
"Ghana needs enough equipment like Laser machines and more eye specialists who would deal with specific cases of diabetic retinopathy," he said.
Miss Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive of Ghana Chamber of Mines advised the youth and the aged to protect and maintain their eyesight by eating foods that would not lead to diabetic and eye complications.
She called for the sharing of information on Diabetic Retinopathy to ensure that more people go for screening tests on the disease.