Patient's knowledge of diabetes, its ocular complications and management in a private practice population in the Western Cape, South Africa.
The aim of this study was to determine management regimens and level of knowledge of diabetes and its‟ ocular complications among private patients in a sample of the population of the Western Cape region of South Africa. A population-based cross-sectional study design, using purposive accidental random sampling, was used. Questionnaires completed by diabetic patients who fund their condition privately outside of the South African Public Health sector were used. One hundred and twenty-two subjects participated in the research, 66 (54%) males and 56 (46%) females. There were 73 rural and 49 urban participants. The overall sample mean BMI was 30.7, average fasting plasma glucose (FPG) 8.1 mmol/l and the majority of respondents did not perform a daily FPG test or know the significance of the HbA1c test. The majority of participants were unaware of the serious ocular consequences of prolonged hyperglycaemia. Sixty-seven percent of respondents considered that they knew enough about diabetes to manage their own condition. From the data it is apparent that private patients‟ knowledge of the systemic and ocular complications of diabetes is sub-optimal. Whilst the majority considered annual eye examinations as important, less than one-third of respondents actually undertook them. Optometrists should be offered programmes to enhance their skills and co-manage and educate diabetic patients with other health care practitioners on a formal basis. Health insurance institutions should take cognisance of the value of patient education and preventative diabetic management and incentivize patients and health care providers in this regard.