Experts warn over rise in cataracts in GCC
Dubai, July 1, 2014
Eye experts in Dubai have warned about the rising incidence of cataracts in the GCC’s young by ageing population, especially among the large diabetic community.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the world and its two main risk factors are age and diabetes, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It causes gradual blurring of vision, it said. In 2002, cataracts caused reversible blindness in more than 17 million of the 37 million blind individuals worldwide. It is projected to reach 40 million by 2020, it said.
Cataracts are cloudy opacifications of the lens of the eye that interfere with vision. It can be be caused by a wide variety of factors. The lens of the eye is made up of cells that contain protein and with increasing age and after damage to the lens cells by trauma, illness or certain medications over time the protein becomes denser and the lens may start to cloud over.
Age is the single most important risk factor for cataracts, which are rare before the age of 40, although babies can also be born with cataracts.
Diabetes is one of the other key factors that result in the development of cataracts - people with diabetes mellitus statistically face a 60 per cent greater risk of developing cataracts.
As with most complications of diabetes, maintaining good control of blood sugar levels will help to reduce risk with research showing that people with type 2 diabetes who lower their HbA1c level by just one per cent can reduce their risk of cataracts by 19 per cent.
Dr Edoardo Zinicola, consultant vitreoretinal surgeon and medical retina specialist at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, the first overseas branch of the London-based eye hospital, said: “We cannot turn back time and even the young population of the Middle East will eventually age, potentially creating a wave of chronic disease – principally diabetes, which will create this perfect storm for cataracts and other serious eye complications.
“Cataracts generally develop and progress slowly and can eventually lead to significant vision problems. The good news is that cataracts can be treated very effectively with modern surgery to remove the cloudy lens and insert a high quality lens implant. Once treated, cataracts do not return.” - TradeArabia News Service