World Diabetes Day 2021: Access to Diabetes Care

November 14th is World Diabetes Day, a date which marks the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin. This day, along with the entire month of November, is dedicated to raising awareness for a disease that affects over 500 million adults. RI supports this year’s theme, “access to diabetes care: If not now, when?”. This theme was chosen to highlight the fact that millions of people living with diabetes don’t have access to the medicine, technology, support, and care they require.

Diabetes affects many aspects of a person’s life and body—their heart, feet, kidneys, and also their vision. Diabetes-related eye diseases (DED) include vision-threatening conditions such as Diabetes-related Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetes-related Macular Edema (DME). DR is the leading cause of blindness in the working population, affecting 145 million people.

There is an urgent need for systematic screening and education programs to be implemented for those at risk, because sight loss can be prevented with early detection and treatment. For those that live in a country or region with a systematic screening program, it is vital to register for a screening and to attend regular appointments with an eye care professional.

Retina International as part of Retina Action, a global coalition committed to improving the lives of those affected with vision loss in our ageing population, has launched the Diabetes-related Eye Disease Toolkit. This toolkit, which can be found at, is a resource to provide relevant and accurate information to patients, their families, eye care professionals and advocates. The resource contains information about causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and available treatment options for diabetes-related eye diseases.

Retinal International and its Retina Action partners are advocating for global policy actions that will lead to equitable access to screening programs, medicine, technologies, and support for all those affected, regardless of where they live.

To learn more about diabetes-related eye diseases, visit RI’s DED Toolkit at

For more information about World Diabetes Day, visit

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