Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is predicted to become the leading cause of blindness, as rates of diabetes reach epidemic levels globally.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

The condition is a complication of diabetes, and if left untreated can lead to irreversible blindness. Many people with diabetes are unaware they have the condition, and by the time their vision deteriorates is it often too late for treatment. Regular screening, and early treatment, as well as careful health management is important to prevent unnecessary vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when poor control of blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and high lipid levels in the blood damage the blood vessels in the retina, which can eventually lead to irreversible blindness.

What are we doing about it?

The Trust is tackling diabetic retinopathy in 11 countries across the Commonwealth. From the Caribbean to South Asia and the Pacific, our partners are piloting different methods of screening, treatment and awareness raising to come up with the most effective solution to the issue. We are bringing together health professionals and governments from all of these countries to share learning and find new solutions.

We will screen tens of thousands of people with diabetes, and provide vital laser surgery for thousands at risk of going blind. Our goal is to create practical, effective and replicable models of care that can be used to prevent diabetic retinopathy throughout the Commonwealth.

Where We Work

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The Caribbean

The Trust, with The Caribbean Council for the Blind, is working in partnership with Governments and local partners in four Caribbean countries – Belize, Jamaica, St Lucia and Dominica – to establish robust, cost effective and sustainable screening and treatment programmes for diabetic retinopathy.

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Bangladesh

We are working with the Fred Hollows Foundation across four districts in Bangladesh to increase community awareness of diabetes and its symptoms, as well as support the integration of eye health into existing services which care for people with diabetes.

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India

We are working with the Public Health Foundation of India to pilot sustainable and scalable models for the prevention, detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy across ten states in India.

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Pakistan

We are working with the Fred Hollows Foundation across two districts in Pakistan to increase community awareness of diabetes and its symptoms, as well as support the integration of eye health into existing services which care for people with diabetes.

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The Pacific

The Trust, with the Fred Hollows Foundation, is working in partnership with Governments and local partners in four nations in the Pacific – Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu -  to strengthen health systems and infrastructure, train health professionals and increase awareness of diabetic retinopathy and the need for regular eye screening.

Select a country to find out more about the Trust’s work.

caribbean pakistan india bangladesh thePacific Image Map
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The Caribbean

The Trust, with The Caribbean Council for the Blind, is working in partnership with Governments and local partners in four Caribbean countries – Belize, Jamaica, St Lucia and Dominica – to establish robust, cost effective and sustainable screening and treatment programmes for diabetic retinopathy.

close

Bangladesh

We are working with the Fred Hollows Foundation across four districts in Bangladesh to increase community awareness of diabetes and its symptoms, as well as support the integration of eye health into existing services which care for people with diabetes.

close

India

We are working with the Public Health Foundation of India to pilot sustainable and scalable models for the prevention, detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy across ten states in India.

close

Pakistan

We are working with the Fred Hollows Foundation across two districts in Pakistan to increase community awareness of diabetes and its symptoms, as well as support the integration of eye health into existing services which care for people with diabetes.

close

The Pacific

The Trust, with the Fred Hollows Foundation, is working in partnership with Governments and local partners in four nations in the Pacific – Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu -  to strengthen health systems and infrastructure, train health professionals and increase awareness of diabetic retinopathy and the need for regular eye screening.

Our Progress So Far

With the support of our partners, we have…

Research

Funded nation-wide research projects in India and Bangladesh to establish what current services are available for people with diabetic retinopathy. The findings have been used to inform our work and will be shared widely to help other countries treat diabetic retinopathy effectively.

People

Trained Community Health Workers in the Pacific and Bangladesh to identify and refer people at risk of diabetic retinopathy. We have also trained eye health consultants in Bangladesh and the Caribbean to treat people with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy.

Helped to establish a National Diabetic Retinopathy Taskforce in India. Led by the Government of India, this taskforce brings together experts involved in all aspects of diabetic retinopathy care, who advise on the direction of the programme and help bring about changes to policy and practice.

Knowledge

Supported the development of guidelines and training modules for diabetes physicians in India and the Pacific, to ensure that eye care is incorporated into their care.

Funded public education programmes and materials on the prevention and control of diabetes in the Pacific, Bangladesh and in India.

Treatment

Begun developing screening and treatment programmes for people at risk of diabetic retinopathy in India, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Provided laser equipment in the Pacific and the Caribbean to treat people with sight threatening diabetic retinopathy.

Helped to set up fixed and mobile diabetic retinopathy clinics across the Caribbean.

Evaluation

As with all of our work, we are capturing our lessons and learning so that we can share it with other countries, to help improve the prevention and treatment of diabetic retinopathy across the Commonwealth.

Research

Funded nation-wide research projects in India and Bangladesh to establish what current services are available for people with diabetic retinopathy. The findings have been used to inform our work and will be shared widely to help other countries treat diabetic retinopathy effectively.

People

Trained Community Health Workers in the Pacific and Bangladesh to identify and refer people at risk of diabetic retinopathy. We have also trained eye health consultants in Bangladesh and the Caribbean to treat people with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy.

Helped to establish a National Diabetic Retinopathy Taskforce in India. Led by the Government of India, this taskforce brings together experts involved in all aspects of diabetic retinopathy care, who advise on the direction of the programme and help bring about changes to policy and practice.

Knowledge

Supported the development of guidelines and training modules for diabetes physicians in India and the Pacific, to ensure that eye care is incorporated into their care.

Funded public education programmes and materials on the prevention and control of diabetes in the Pacific, Bangladesh and in India.

Treatment

Begun developing screening and treatment programmes for people at risk of diabetic retinopathy in India, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Provided laser equipment in the Pacific and the Caribbean to treat people with sight threatening diabetic retinopathy.

Helped to set up fixed and mobile diabetic retinopathy clinics across the Caribbean.

Evaluation

As with all of our work, we are capturing our lessons and learning so that we can share it with other countries, to help improve the prevention and treatment of diabetic retinopathy across the Commonwealth.

Case Study

Dr P V Rao, India

dr rao

Dr Rao is a renowned endocrinologist and heads a dedicated Diabetes Research Wing at the Sivananda Rehabilitation Home at Ramdev Rao Hospital, Hyderabad.

He has been providing support to around 400 young people with Type 1 diabetes, and hopes to establish a programme of round-the-clock assistance to help them manage their condition, as well as screen them for diabetic retinopathy.

Through the Trust’s grant to the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Dr Rao is now able to pilot test integrative approaches to support people with diabetes.

He is developing a cost-effective, holistic care model for diabetes management with diabetic retinopathy screening, in partnership with the Puspagiri Vitreo Retina Institute (PVRI). "Being an endocrinologist, I have never actually been involved in screening for diabetic retinopathy, but would like others in the field to value this holistic approach to diabetes management", he says. The staff in his team will now be trained in this approach to diabetic care, with expert inputs from PVRI.

Case Study

Dr Yamely, Bangladesh

dr yamely

In 2012, the Fred Hollows Foundation in Bangladesh helped the Brahmanbaria district hospital to establish facilities for eye-care services for people with diabetes – the first time such services have been set up in the country.

To date around 1200 people with diabetic retinopathy have received laser treatment.

Dr Yamely, the senior eye consultant of the Brahmanbaria District hospital has been an integral part of this process, providing diabetic retinopathy laser treatment to people who need it the community.

The Trust is supporting the scale up of these existing services so that more people with diabetic retinopathy across the country can receive timely, quality eye care. The aim is to embed these services into the Government health systems in Bangladesh.

"Eye Care services for diabetic patients at district level will have significant impact for the community", said Dr Yamely.

His motivation and inspirational effort towards eye health and diabetic retinopathy is an excellent example of how empowered health professionals can help improve health systems of developing countries like Bangladesh.

  • Case Study
    Dr P V Rao, India
    dr rao

    Dr Rao is a renowned endocrinologist and heads a dedicated Diabetes Research Wing at the Sivananda Rehabilitation Home at Ramdev Rao Hospital, Hyderabad.

    He has been providing support to around 400 young people with Type 1 diabetes, and hopes to establish a programme of round-the-clock assistance to help them manage their condition, as well as screen them for diabetic retinopathy.

    Through the Trust’s grant to the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Dr Rao is now able to pilot test integrative approaches to support people with diabetes.

    He is developing a cost-effective, holistic care model for diabetes management with diabetic retinopathy screening, in partnership with the Puspagiri Vitreo Retina Institute (PVRI). "Being an endocrinologist, I have never actually been involved in screening for diabetic retinopathy, but would like others in the field to value this holistic approach to diabetes management", he says. The staff in his team will now be trained in this approach to diabetic care, with expert inputs from PVRI.

  • Case Study
    Dr Yamely, Bangladesh
    dr yamely

    In 2012, the Fred Hollows Foundation in Bangladesh helped the Brahmanbaria district hospital to establish facilities for eye-care services for people with diabetes – the first time such services have been set up in the country.

    To date around 1200 people with diabetic retinopathy have received laser treatment.

    Dr Yamely, the senior eye consultant of the Brahmanbaria District hospital has been an integral part of this process, providing diabetic retinopathy laser treatment to people who need it the community.

    The Trust is supporting the scale up of these existing services so that more people with diabetic retinopathy across the country can receive timely, quality eye care. The aim is to embed these services into the Government health systems in Bangladesh.

    "Eye Care services for diabetic patients at district level will have significant impact for the community", said Dr Yamely.

    His motivation and inspirational effort towards eye health and diabetic retinopathy is an excellent example of how empowered health professionals can help improve health systems of developing countries like Bangladesh.