Awareness of Diabetic Retinopathy amongst Diabetic Patients at the Murtala Mohammed Hospital, Kano, Nigeria
Background: Blindness from diabetic retinopathy is a preventable complication of diabetes if the retinopathy is detected early. Among other approaches, strong awareness of retinopathy by diabetic patients could help in the early detection, management and prevention of this complication. This study sets out to determine the general awareness of diabetic retinopathy amongst diabetic patients attending the outpatient
diabetes clinic of the Murtala Muhammad hospital, Kano. This is the central reference general hospital within the ancient and historic walls of the traditional city of Kano. The hospital has an eye unit but with a paucity of manpower and equipment. Most diabetic patients often on self-referral usually present to the eye clinic only when they experience a marked reduction in vision. In the case of diabetic retinopathy, this is unfortunately
late for any meaningful intervention. Although primary diabetic caregivers are usually aware of the possibility of eye complications from diabetes, they tend to wait until patients make visual complaints before screening them or inviting eye care personnel to join in the management. Diabetic retinopathy screening protocols are in most cases either not available, or
not strictly followed. Patient awareness of diabetic retinopathy and its associated risk factors should aid compliance with risk control measures, and help drive patient demand for retinopathy screening.
Method: This is a cross sectional study conducted using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. All consenting adult patients seen at the diabetes clinic over a one-month period were recruited for the study.
Results: A total of 185 patients were involved with a mean age of 55.4 years. The majority of the patients (78.4%) had no formal western education and were mainly traders, farmers or housewives. 84.3% of the patients were generally aware of diabetic retinopathy with their main source of information being hospital staff and fellow patients. 80.5% knew diabetic retinopathy could lead to blindness but only 15.7% have ever
had retinopathy screening. There was little or no knowledge of retinopathy risk factors or the need for early detection through screening. Conclusion: Although there is general awareness of diabetic retinopathy amongst a majority of the patients, there is however little or no knowledge of its risk factors and prevention. There is therefore a need for increasing this awareness, and the provision of access to retinopathy screening services to the patients.
Niger Med J. Vol. 50, No. 2, April – June, 2009: 38 – 41.
Key words: Diabetic retinopathy, Awareness, Retinopathy screening, Nigeria