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04 June 2023

News from Europe

Helping people with diabetes see the world in bright colours

BrightcoloursEye problems and blindness are amongst the most feared complications of diabetes. While most people with diabetes only have minor eye problems, regular check-ups are key to keep these complications minor, or to ensure early diagnosis and optimal treatment of more serious complications.

In Ukraine, screening for eye complications for people with diabetes is not universally available, and data on how people with diabetes are affected by these is patchy. Various studies have shown that most of the time, people with diabetes are not screened or treated on time for eye complications related to diabetes. A recent survey highlights that only 40% of people with diabetes at high-risk of developing eye problems (i.e. with previous retinopathy or who have had diabetes for a long time) have undergone eye examinations.  

To help raise awareness of the importance of regular eye checks, the Ukrainian Diabetes Federation (UDF) started travelling the country to offer free screening for diabetic retinopathy and other diabetes-related eye complications. “We launched our Mobile Eye Lab project in May 2014,” says Valentyna Ocheretenko, Chair of UDF’s Board. “Our slogan is: see the world in bright colours. The idea was to get to people with diabetes who don’t have access to regular eye examination – people who cannot afford to travel 50 or 100km to get their eyes checked.”

Thanks to support from partners, UDF was able to buy a van fully equipped for conducting eye exams. Since then, the mobile eye lab travels to parts of the country where healthcare services are more difficult to access. “From May to December 2014, we managed to screen more than 1250 people – almost all of them with diabetes”, comments Valentyna. “The results are telling: we have found 560 cases of diabetic retinopathy, of which 112 were at phase 3.”

Screening and diagnosing eye complications for people with diabetes are not the only goals of the Mobile Eye Lab. Once the patient is screened, their data is sent to the Data Center of the Ukrainian Ophthalmological Clinics, where it is analysed by doctors. Each patient then receives recommendations or is called for treatment.

“Our goal is also to raise awareness of this issue with our policy-makers”, adds Valentyna. “We are creating a registry with data from our screening. Thanks to this we hope to be able to push for a national action plan to combat blindness and eye problems caused by diabetes.”

For more information about the Mobile Eye Lab project, contact UDF at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..