‘Eyes on Diabetes:’ How the disease affects your eyes

World Today

World Diabetes DayPhoto credit: Oskar Annermarken/ Flickr/Creative Commons

Today marks World Diabetes Day, which is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), and is recognized by the UN and by the World Health Organization (WHO). Diabetes is fast becoming a pressing global healthcare issue – not only among the affluent, but in low-income and middle-income countries as well. An estimated 415 million people suffer from diabetes, but the number is set to hike to 642 million by 2040.

Even Google marked World Diabetes Day with a tribute to Frederick Banting, the first scientist and physician to use insulin on humans.

“Eyes on Diabetes”

With diabetes being a leading cause of blindness in some working-age adults, “Eyes on Diabetes” is the main focus this year. There is a lack of knowledge about how the disease affects the eye. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that one in three people with diabetes are affected by some stage of diabetic retinopathy, a diabetic eye disease.
International medical organizations aim to raise awareness about the importance of early screening to ensure early diagnosis. Early detection can decrease the risk of developing health issues.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a non-communicable disease, or a disease of long duration but generally slow progression, triggered by excess sugar in the blood. Although bad lifestyle habits puts a person at a higher risk of getting diabetes, genetics also plays a role. Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Type 1 and 2

There are two major forms of diabetes – type 1 and 2.

Type 1 is caused by a lack of insulin production, a hormone that allows glucose into the cells. The lack of insulin builds sugar into the bloodstream.

Type 2, which is far more common, occurs when the body resists the effects of insulin, or doesn’t produce enough of it. The World Health Organization estimates that type 2 accounts for 90 percent of all diabetics in the world.

One in two adults currently living with diabetes aren’t diagnosed, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

Diabetes facts and figures

In China the epidemic is becoming increasingly concerning with more than 100 million people living with diabetes. The country has the most cases of diabetes, and of deaths caused by diabetes in the world.

An estimated 21 million people are affected by diabetes in the U.S. It remains the seventh leading cause of death in the country.

According to the IDF, Africa has the highest proportion of people with diabetes that are not diagnosed, while Europe has the highest prevalence of children with type 1 diabetes.

The infographic below examines the global costs of diabetes in 2015 and IDF projections for 2040. In 2015, an estimated 672 billion dollars were spent worldwide on diabetes.

Infographic: The Global Cost Of Diabetes | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

Juliana Chan on diabetes in China

For more on diabetes in China, CCTV America’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Juliana Chan, the director of Hong Kong Institute of Diabetes and Obesity at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.