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Diabetic patients urged for earlier eye sight check to prevent blindness

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 13/06/2019

The Chief Executive of “The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust”, Dr Astrid Bonfield, this morning highlighted the importance for diabetic patients to get earlier eye sight check to prevent blindness.

“I think one of the really important messages is that if you have diabetes get your eyes checked. Get your eyes checked once a year. Nobody needs to lose a sight if you get your eyes checked.”

About 16 percent of people in Tonga are those living with diabetes, ranging from ages 25 to 65 where about two thirds of those diabetes will have retinopathy.

However, Tonga is fortunate to have an ophthalmologist – Dr Duke Matara who says that with the modern equipment installed at the hospital, will help address the issue.

“Of that two third, one third will need treatment so this program is providing all the equipment needed for treating that one third of those living with blindness due to diabetes which is treatment through laser. At the moment, we have two screening cameras one will be installed at Mu’a centre and another one which is already installed in Vava’u.”

With the support from the Trust’s funding, 4,133 people with diabetes in Tonga have been screened for diabetic retinopathy and 158 people have now received treatment to prevent them from going blind.

Since 2016, The Trust has been working with the Ministry of Health and The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ to help bring affordable, quality eye care to people in Tonga, including those who live in the most remote of communities, who have or are at risk of diabetic retinopathy.


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