18 Jun 2019

Tongan blindness prevention programme receives recognition

1:22 pm on 18 June 2019

A Tongan programme to prevent diabetes-related blindness has received praise from the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

Diabetics must monitor their blood sugar levels frequently.

Diabetics must monitor their blood sugar levels frequently. Photo: AFP

The head of the Trust, Astrid Bonfield met with officials from Tonga's Ministry of Health this week to applaud progress with vision screening and eye treatment for people with diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy is the fastest growing cause of blindness globally and occurs when poor control of blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and high lipid levels damage the tiny vessels in the retina.

Ophthalmologist, Duke Mataka said about two thirds of those with diabetes will have retinopathy.

Matangi Tonga reported over 4,100 people with diabetes in Tonga have been screened for eye disease and nearly 160 people have received treatment to prevent them from going blind.

The blindness prevention work involves both the use of better medical equipment and extra training for clinicians.

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