Epidemiological data shows that Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in South Africa is increasing with changes in lifestyles and ageing of the population. Early diagnosis and management of DM is an important factor for limiting visual and physical complications of the disease. The purpose of this study was to establish the level of knowledge about DM, its ocular complications and management protocol amongst diabetic patients. A questionnaire was provided to a total of 106 diabetic patients attending the Tongaat Community Clinic, the University of KwaZulu Natal Eye Clinic and the Diabetic Awareness day in Chatsworth. All patients were receiving treatment for DM. The questionnaire consisted of questions relating to the patients’ knowledge of the disease, its ocular complications and its management. The respondents were mostly females (65%), aged between 30 to 85 years (mean = 52.45 ± 3.75 years). The majority (96%) of respondents knew about the existence of two main types of DM and 77% reported having Type 2 DM, 18% reported having Type 1 DM, and only 5% did not know the type of DM that they had. Many respondents thought that hereditary factors (78%), and diet and lifestyle modifications (77%), were important risk factors in the development of DM. Glucose levelcontrol (84%) and duration (85%) were thought as important risk factors for its complications. Although many subjects (66.1%) were aware of the visual threat that DM posed, only 42%, 44% and 53% knew that DM could result in diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma respectively. Less than half (48.3%) of the respondents had their last eye examination more than a year and a half ago. A significant proportion (60.8%) reported that the threat to vision was reason enough for them to have regular eye examinations. A large proportion (76%) of respondents reported that they had adequate knowledge of management of DM. Many (81%) of the respondents reported routinely controlling their DM through diet, 65% through exercise, 84% through sugar monitoring and 76% through regular medical examinations. The participants in this study had a significant knowledge of DM and its management. However, their knowledge of ocular effects was limited. These results highlight the need for educational programmes aimed at improving the knowledge of the effects of DM on the eyes including the need for regular eye examinations
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