Diabetes is among the leading causes of death, disability and economic
loss throughout the world. Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina caused by complications of diabetes, which can eventually lead to blindness.
The world Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that there were 171 million people worldwide with diabetes in 2000 and predicted that 366 million people worldwide will have diabetes by 2030. The increase will be due mainly to increases in low- and middle income countries. The international Diabetes
Federation has estimated that another 314 million persons have impaired glucose tolerance, and that number will increase to 472 million by 2030.
In China, for example, it was estimated that 26 million people had diabetes in 2001, and the prevalence had increased markedly recently due to population ageing. Whereas diabetes in developed countries is mostly among the elderly, most of those in developing countries are younger (45-64 years), thus increasing the impact of diabetes on those populations and societies.
More than 75% of patients who have had diabetes for more than 20 years will have some sort of retinopathy. In view of the increasing prevalence of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy throughout most of the world, a consultation on prevention of blindness from diabetes was convened by the World
Health Organization to review the current status of diabetic retinopathy care and to define
approaches to screening, early detection and management in populations in different settings.
Diabetes is an important public health problem worldwide.

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