Preventing diabetic blindness: A priority for South Africa

Karen Joanne Hofman, Colin Cook, Naomi Levitt


The prevalence of diabetes in South Africa is increasing rapidly, and diabetes is a significant cause of blindness. Diabetic complications can induce a cycle of poverty for affected families. Early detection of retinopathy and appropriate management can prevent blindness. Screening for retinopathy using a mobile retinal camera is highly cost-effective, with costs of screening and follow-up treatment being less than the expense of one year of a disability grant. Such a programme is a prime example of a ‘best buy’ that should be part of the national diabetes care package.

Authors' affiliations

Karen Joanne Hofman, PRICELESS SA (Priority Cost Eective Lessons for Systems Strengthening), Medical Research Council/Wits Rural Public Health Unit (Agincourt), School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Colin Cook, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Naomi Levitt, Division of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town and groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa; Chronic Diseases Initiative for Africa, Cape Town

Full Text



Diabetes; Blindness; Screening; Cost-effectiveness; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(10):661-662. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8580

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-06-19
Date published: 2014-06-26

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