Tripoli, 5 April 2014:
A new screening programme to help early detection in cases of diabetes-related blindness could save the sight of . . .[restrict]thousands of Libyans.
The screening process involves taking detailed digital photographs of the inside of a patient’s eye to look for signs of diabetes-related retinopathy. Images can then be uploaded onto the internet, enabling ‘remote’ diagnosis by out-of-country specialists.
With three retinal cameras now being purchased for Libya, and 11 Libyan doctors newly-trained in Istanbul, the screening programme should be ready to start this summer.
Retinopathy is a degeneration of the eye common among diabetes sufferers. It can easily be detected through screening and treated but, if left untreated, usually causes blindness.
The screening programme is particularly crucial for Libya. Despite high rates of diabetes, the poor healthcare system means retinopathy is typically caught too late and only after the patient has started to lose sight.
Organisers hope the programme will, within two years, result in more than 30,000 Libyans being screened. This could help prevent blindness in several thousands of cases, they said.
The screening programme is part of the US-based EyePACS project, which aims to train those working with people suffering from diabetes to screen patients’ vision, for remote diagnosis by certified eye doctors.
At the training in Istanbul, the Libyan doctors were taught by staff from the University of California at Berkeley and the Libyan Association for Diabetes and Endocrinology (LADE). Professor of Optometry at U.C. Berkeley and co-founder of EyePACS, Jorge Cuadros, led the seminar, which trained opthalmologists, diabetes specialists and clinicians from Benghazi, Tripoli and Kabaw, to use advanced digital imaging techniques.
They will also be able to instruct others back in Libya how to use the scanners, which are manufactured by US firm Optovue.
In a programme specifically targeting those already diagnosed with diabetes, the newly-trained doctors will use retinal cameras and the EyePACS training and grading system to screen individuals. The non-invasive procedure takes about 10 minutes per patient. Those diagnosed with retinopathy will receive formal diagnosis reports from EyePACS, and will be referred to affiliated clinics for laser treatment.
Cuadros, who has run similar programmes in Mexico, said he was very impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the Libyans who attended. [/restrict]