What is Diabetic Retinopathy and How can Lions Help?

Diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes, is the result of damage to the blood vessels of the retina—the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. In some cases, the blood vessels swell and leak, while in others there is abnormal growth of new vessels. The disease usually affects both eyes and most often occurs in individuals who have had diabetes for many years.

Diabetic retinopathy accounts for nearly 5 percent of the world’s blindness. Once vision is lost from diabetic retinopathy, it cannot be restored. Diabetic retinopathy can be avoided with prevention or good control of diabetes. Once diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed, progression of the disease and loss of vision can be reduced by 90 percent with improved control of diabetes and ongoing diabetic retinopathy treatment.

How can Lions Help?
SightFirst provides grant funding diabetic retinopathy projects where the disease is a significant public health concern. The projects are comprehensive in nature with activities ranging from public education and professional training, to screening, treatment and low vision services. Lions’ unending support of SightFirst makes these projects possible.

SightFirst’s diabetic retinopathy accomplishments include:

  • Educating more than 1.5 million people
  • Training more than 2,000 professionals
  • Conducting more than 23,000 surgeries
  • Screening more than 140,000 patients

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The Lions Eye Health Program (LEHP) is a community-based eye health education program that empowers Lions clubs, community organizations and individuals to promote healthy vision and raise awareness of the causes of preventable vision loss. The mission of LEHP is to empower communities to save sight through the early detection and timely treatment of glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, encourage those at- risk to undergo a dilated eye exam and educate those with low vision and their caregivers about the condition.

Diabetes contributes to more than 5 million deaths a year, making it the eighth-leading cause of death in the world. And the numbers are rising. Lions and Leos are confronting this global health emergency by raising awareness of diabetes through Strides events, expanding access to care through screening and treatment programs, and improving quality of life through diabetes camps and community recreational programs. We believe we can help prevent and control this global epidemic by uniting Lions and Leos around this cause.

For information on how your club can help, visit http://members.lionsclubs.org/EN/serve/diabetes/index.php.