Diabetes mellitus is a significant cause of visual impairment due to diabetes related eye complications. Most of these complications are treatable if diagnosed early, hence timely eye examination is paramount.
To determine proportion, risk factors, and patterns of visual impairment among patients with diabetes and the factors influencing attendance of these patients at eye clinics of MRRH and REC.
This was a cross-sectional study with a quantitative and qualitative component done at MRRH and REC. 318 patients with diabetes aged ≥18 years old were examined for visual impairment and ocular complications of diabetes. Some of the patients and a select medical staff were interviewed for the factors influencing attendance. Data was collected using standard optometric instruments, a questionnaire and in-depth interviews. It was entered and analyzed using Microsoft Excel software packages and STATA version 11.0.
We found out that 25.1% of the patients had visual impairment without correction, and 17% with correction. Cataract was the commonest diabetes related eye complication (34.5%). The most significant risk factors of visual impairment were age, and having visual symptoms at the time of enrolment (P <0.05).Lack of awareness, lack of eye screening, and referrals, poor physician-ophthalmologist collaboration, fear of eye surgery were hindering factors to attendance, however, having visual symptoms was an encouraging factor for attendance to the eye clinics by patients with diabetes.
The proportion of diabetes patients with visual impairment was high and cataract was the commonest diabetes related eye complication in this population. The most significant risk factors to visual impairment were age and having visual symptoms at the time of presentation. Factors influencing attendance were multifactorial.