Bhairaja Shrestha on behalf of Drishti Eye Care Centre Pvt. Ltd.
To reduce the incidence of blindness and visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy in Nepal by increasing awareness, screening and treatment using a systematic portable fundus photography-based screening program and training eye health staff
Nepal is among the least developed countries in the world (per capita income $918), further devastated after massive earthquakes in 2015. The literacy rate is just 64.7%. Eyecare services in Nepal are effective for the treatment of cataract and trachoma, but efforts for screening and treating diabetic retinopathy cases are inadequate. Out of 29 million Nepalese population, 50% of diabetics are undiagnosed and unaware of diabetic retinopathy; 10% of diabetic individuals have diabetic retinopathy and 2–3% have severe visual impairment. The retina clinic at the center of this project receives 65% diabetic retinopathy cases daily. This project aims to reach around 1,000 previously unreached diabetic retinopathy cases by strengthening the referral system, increasing diabetic retinopathy screening at the hospital and community level by purchasing a fundus camera and promoting eye care training to the local paramedics for the long-term benefits of diabetic patients of Nepal.
This project is important as there is an urgent need to upgrade diabetic retinopathy screening to improve diabetes services nationally. This will be achieved by improving the screening rates, creating awareness, training paramedics and improving the referral process – with the ultimate goals of improving best practice and reducing the incidence of blindness and visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy. Educational training for local paramedics will provide a sustainable impact.