Today for World Diabetes Day, we are highlighting the importance of everyone, everywhere, having access to diabetes eye care.
Globally, an estimated 1 in 10 adults have diabetes, a condition that, without early detection and treatment, can lead to serious complications like diabetic retinopathy, also known as diabetes eye disease. Diabetes eye disease affects approximately 1 in 3 people with diabetes and 1 in 10 are at risk of developing a severe form that could threaten their vision. Poorly managed blood sugars, high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase the likelihood of vision loss, along with the risk of exacerbating sight problems such as cataract or glaucoma.
Diabetes eye disease often lacks symptoms in its early stages, so many with diabetes aren't aware that their condition, if left unmanaged, could affect their vision and potentially lead to blindness. This is why it is so important to have access to quality diabetes eye care, including regular eye screenings, so that any issues can be detected and treated as early as possible.
James, a patient we met at the Regional Eye Centre in Solomon Islands, has experienced first-hand the impact diabetes can have. James was diagnosed with diabetes in 2020 and not long after, developed diabetes-induced cataracts which caused him to lose his sight. For nine months James was completely blind. He couldn't go to his job at the university and wasn't able to care for his two young children.
Before James could get cataract surgery, he had to get his blood sugar levels to a manageable level. After being hospitalised for a month, James was finally able to undergo cataract surgery and have his sight restored, which changed everything. James could now go back to work and
go back to supporting his family. His story serves as an important reminder to take care of your health and your eyes, so you can continue to take care of your family and do all the things you love.
"Sight is a very important thing. When I was unable to see, I thought it was end of my career. I am supporting my children in their studies. If I was not able to go back to work, the future would be blurred.”
His story also highlights the impact of all our generous donors who help make sight-restoring surgeries like James's possible.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of NZ for their donation to support the clinic in Solomon Islands. It is the most beautiful and well-managed clinic in Solomon Islands. You have been part of helping me to see again. I know those donations come from your heart, and God will richly bless you for your support.”
With the continued support of our community and donors, we can expand our reach and work with local partners to ensure that more people in the Pacific, like James, can access the sight-saving care that can transform their lives. This World Diabetes Day, let's remember that our efforts can bring the world into focus for many—because everyone deserves the opportunity to see the future clearly.