The solution was to find a more efficient, reliable and evidence-based method to carry out screening for diabetes retinal disease. Thus digital retinal cameras were used to take pictures of the retina. The digital images could then be read or even discussed with colleagues and specialists. Complications were thus detected early and treated early. Digital retinal cameras were made available in the five health regions and in Rodrigues.
The ophthalmologists (eye specialists) who are usually referred the cases for treatment noted an increase in referral as more cases were detected early. Those cases would have otherwise lost their vision or proceeded to have more advanced eye disease. The treatment usually consists of laser therapy. A solution was found to the increasing workload of the ophthalmologists. A new modern, more efficient, laser equipment, the Pascal Laser, was procured.
Since the beginning of the project in 2008 and as at April 2011, some 24,141 patients (mostly with diabetes for more than 10 years) have been screened and some 2,366 patients have been referred for treatment.
Though it is expected that over the medium to long term, this project will decrease blindness due to diabetes by around 50%, already benefits are evident. The surgeons have observed that they are seeing less complicated cases. Persons between 15 and 60 years who have attended social security for invalidity pension due to blindness has decreased as follows:-
Blindness 19 16 15 8
Total Blindness 2 3 0 0
(Data from Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions)