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Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2016 May;44(4):300-20. doi: 10.1111/ceo.12745. Epub 2016 May 1.

Addressing risk factors, screening, and preventative treatment for diabetic retinopathy in developing countries: a review.

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Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore.
Office of Clinical Sciences, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore.


The number of people with diabetic retinopathy (DR) has increased with the increasing prevalence of diabetes mellitus worldwide, especially in developing countries. In recent years, the successful implementation of public health programs in developed countries has been thought to contribute to decreases in blindness from DR. Developing countries, however, have not seen the same improvements, and their public health interventions still face significant challenges. In this review we describe the current state of public health approaches including risk factor control, screening and treatment techniques for DR in developing countries, and suggest recommendations. While the awareness of DR is variable, specific knowledge about DR is low, such that many patients have already experienced vision loss by the time they are screened. Attempts to improve rates of screening, in particular through non-mydriatic cameras and tele-screening, are ongoing and promising, although challenges include collaboration with healthcare systems and technology failures. Laser treatment is the most readily available, with anti-VEGF therapy and vitreo-retinal surgery increasingly sought after and provided. Recommendations include the use of 'targeted mydriasis' for fundus imaging to address high rates of ungradable images, increased communication with diabetes management services to improve patient retention and mobilization of access to DR treatments.


Awareness; developing countries; diabetic retinopathy; prevention; screening; treatment

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