Original Research

Diabetic retinopathy and retinal screening awareness amongst female diabetic patients at a day hospital diabetic clinic in Cape Town, South Africa

Nomfundo F. Mkhombe, Peter Clarke-Farr
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 80, No 1 | a614 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v80i1.614 | © 2021 Nomfundo Fortunate Mkhombe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 September 2020 | Published: 30 August 2021

About the author(s)

Nomfundo F. Mkhombe, Department of Ophthalmic Sciences, Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Peter Clarke-Farr, Department of Ophthalmic Sciences, Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: Most eye complications presenting at a diabetic clinic are preventable; however, few patients are aware of the importance of regular diabetic eye examinations. Diabetes causes diabetic retinopathy (DR), yet retinal screening provides an opportunity to refer for appropriate treatment and prevention of avoidable blindness.

Aim: The aim of this research was to evaluate the awareness levels of DR and retinal screening procedures amongst female diabetic patients.

Setting: The study was conducted at Site B day clinic, situated in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa.

Methods: Data collection involved a self-developed and administered questionnaire. Two research assistants, trained in ethical research, assisted in administering the instrument and data collection over an 8-week period.

Results: Data were collected from 149 randomly selected female diabetic patients. Approximately, three-quarters (71.1%, n = 106) had knowledge about DR and the importance of retinal screening, and most (79.2%, n = 118) agreed that diabetic disease can lead to blindness. Whilst 63.1% (n = 94) of respondents understood the importance of screening, just over three-quarters (75.8%, n = 113) felt that all people should attend retinal screening even though 80.4% (n = 119) agreed that DR leads to permanent eye damage. Significantly, 60.4% (n = 90) felt that attending retinal screening sessions may delay the need for spectacles. Just over half (53.0%, n = 79) felt that cultural and spiritual beliefs influenced the respondents’ attendance for retinal screening.

Conclusion: Whilst respondents were, in general, well aware of the risks associated with diabetes mellitus (DM) and DR and knowledge of retinal screening was relatively good, the survey found that in the respondents’ opinion, attending the retinal screening caused delays in getting new spectacles because this screening was a prerequisite for referral for spectacles.


awareness; diabetes mellitus; diabetic retinopathy; female patients; retinal screening


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