African Health Sciences

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Causes of visual disability among Central Africans with diabetes mellitus

M Mvitu Muaka, B Longo-Mbenza


Background: Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) remains a common and one of the major causes of blindness in the developed and western societies. The same situation is shown in emerging economic areas (5,6). In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) however, the issues of visual disability due to diabetes mellitus (DM) are overshadowed by the presence of the prevalent and common nutritional deficiency diseases and eye infections
Objective: This clinic-based study was conducted to determine whether diabetic retinopathy is independently related to visual disability in black patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) from Kinshasa, Congo.
Methods: A total of 299 urban patients with DM and low income including 108 cases of visual disability and matched for time admission and DM type to 191 controls, were assessed. Demographic, clinical, and ophthalmic data were assessed using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: Age >60 years, female sex, presence of diabetic retinopathy (DR), proliferative DR, shorter DM duration, glaucoma, macular oedema, diabetic nephropathy were the univariate risk factors of visual disability. Using logistic regression model, visual disability was significantly associated with female sex and diabetic retinopathy.
Conclusion: The risk of visual disability is 4 times higher in patients with diabetic retinopathy and 2 times higher in females with DM. Therefore, to prevent further increase of visual disability, the Congolese Ministry of Health should prioritize the eye care in patients with DM.

Keywords: Visual disability, diabetic retinopathy, females, risk factors, Central Africa
AJOL African Journals Online