Radio New Zealand has highlighted the work that The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ hopes to achieve in combatting the broader threat of diabetic eye disease in the Pacific.
Experts from around the region met in Wellington to discuss strategies to deal with diabetes, including Paula Vivili, Director of Public Health from the Pacific Community, and Tonga Health Minister Hon. Dr. Saia Piukala
Diabetic eye disease is a complication of diabetes and is the world’s leading cause of avoidable blindness in the working age population. The disease has become a rapidly intensifying problem in low-income countries. In the Pacific, it is at one of the highest rates in the world, despite being uncommon only a generation ago.
The head of the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva, Telaite Biu, said while it could lead to blindness, diabetic retinopathy's early signs were usually asymptomatic, so people would not know that they had diabetic eye disease because most of the time their vision would be normal.
This was where education came in, and was the reason why the institute was training local community workers, Dr Biu said.