The project addresses the need for early diagnostics services of preventable blindness
associated diabetic retinopathy in patients with diabetes living in the capital city of
Ulaanbaatar and rural parts of Mongolia.
Diabetic retinopathy is retinopathy (damage to the retina) caused by complications
of diabetes, which can eventually lead to blindness. It affects up to 80 percent of all
patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more. However, at least 90% of these
new cases could be reduced if there was proper and vigilant treatment and monitoring
of the eyes. Treatment includes laser surgery, injection of corticosteroids or Anti-VEGF
into the eye, and vitrectomy.
Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is a rapidly growing cause of blindness in Mongolia due to an
epidemic of diabetes, as elsewhere in Asia. There is little infrastructure, training and
equipment to recognize and treat DR. A study among diabetics in urban and rural
Mongolia in 2010 found that the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy among diabetics
was 30.7% and 96% of patients with treatable DR were untreated 1 .
It is shown that Mongolia has a very high prevalence of diabetic retinopathy and due to
the lack of accessible diagnostic services to recognize the condition at early stages,
many of those people who suffered from diabetes for a long period of time end up
becoming irreversibly blind. Mongolia is located in high latitudes, hence the background
high level of ultraviolet radiation exposure compound the problem even more (solar
The current project also aims to prevent people becoming blind not only from diabetic
retinopathy, but prevent other forms of preventable blindness such as the cataract and
Cataract remains the most common cause of blindness in the Mongolia, and the
cataract surgical rate of 790 million per year is among the lowest in Asia. Glaucoma is
the second leading cause of blindness in the country, accounting for 35% of blind
persons nearly the almost same as cataract.
The WHO estimates that between 0.3 and 0.5% of the population of Mongolia is blind
and 2-3% of the population experiences low vision. Between 9,400 and 15,666
Mongolians are living with blindness From this, it is estimated that 2,000 blind people
live in Ulaanbaatar and the rest live in rural areas, across 21 aimags (provinces). The
unofficial statistics indicate that there estimated 13,000 people living with visual
impairment disability (both blindness and low vision) in Mongolia. Of those people, 1211
were children between ages of 0-16 years old. 985 of those children live in the
countryside and the rest live in capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar.
Blindness has high human and social costs: visually impaired people become not only a
burden for their own family, but also requires a person to support them their entire
The studies have shown that with the blindness, the person loses 80% of his or her
ability to receive information.
The project aims to reach out approximately 450 diabetic patients who are on patient
registry of selected district hospitals in Ulaanbaatar and provide follow up treatment to
approximately 45 pre-selected patients.