Bermuda is a chain of islands in the Atlantic Ocean with a population of approximately 64,000 people. The archipelago has a high incidence of diabetes, estimated at 13% of the population. Health care in Bermuda is not free, so for the 12% who are uninsured or the 23% under-insured, funding health checks or treatment is either an impossibility or can result in financial hardship, particularly for those with a chronic medical condition such as diabetes.
In association with the Bermuda Diabetes Association our team consisting of Professor David Owens and Dr Rebecca Thomas from Swansea University, and Catherine Jamison from Queen’s University Belfast travelled from the UK in March 2023 to carry out a week of free diabetic eye-screening in the capital city of Hamilton. Screening was carried out over three days at the Bermuda Diabetes Association headquarters, and one day at the Patient-Centred Medical Home (PCMH) clinic at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. All the people with diabetes completed a health questionnaire aided by volunteers, their height, weight and BP were measure and a blood sample taken for HBA1c. Eye examination involved a visual acuity test followed by the instillation of eye drops to dilate the pupils prior to taking photographs of the back of the eye (retinal images) with a handheld Optomed Aurora camera (two of which were kindly lent to us by Optomed for the screening week). One macula-centred, and one disc-centred image were taken per eye, per individual.
We screened 171 persons with diabetes over the week and observed quite a high incidence of diabetic retinopathy, along with several other pathologies that merited referral. Grading has been completed and results are currently being analysed. For those persons that need referral for further assessment and possible treatment the Bermuda Diabetes Association is working with other charities such as Vision Bermuda to assist with payment for treatment where it is needed.
It was a very busy and productive week with over 80% of individuals with diabetes who had booked a screening slot attending. It appeared that all the people with diabetes who participated in this event were very appreciative of the opportunity to have a thorough review and eye screening free of charge. Many thanks to the Bermuda Diabetes Association, all the volunteers including optometrists who assisted throughout the week, our respective universities for releasing us to do the screening, and to Optomed for generously lending two Aurora screening cameras.
— Arto Peura, Optomed, Key Accounts Manager
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