According to the International Diabetes Federation, an estimated 382 million people worldwide have diabetes. 80% of them are living in the developing world. By 2035, 592 million people, or one in ten adults, will have diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of preventable vision loss among working age adults. According to the World Health Organization, more than 75% of people living with diabetes for more than 15 years will develop vision problems, and 10% will suffer significant vision loss.
More than 4 million people worldwide have experienced vision loss related to diabetes.
Many with diabetes in developing countries, especially those living in poor communities, are undiagnosed or have little information on how to manage their disease. As there are often no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, the undiagnosed are not seeking care until their vision begins to decline, at which point treatment is less effective.
Helen Keller International is at the forefront of improving access to treatment and prevention of diabetes-related vision loss in Bangladesh and Indonesia, countries that have seen an explosive increase in diabetes in recent years.
Using cutting edge technology, we have developed highly effective programs that identify individuals afflicted with diabetic retinopathy and link them with trained physicians who help to prevent vision loss. We also train health care professionals on how to raise awareness about the disease, provide vision screenings, and educate people in impoverished communities where patients are at greater risk.