With over 77 million people with diabetes in India, the country has emerged as the diabetes capital of the world. As a reason, a simultaneous and sharp rise has been observed in the prevalence of diabetes-related preventable vision loss. It is estimated that ~ 1.1-crore people are suffering from retinal disorders in India and more alarmingly, about one in every three people living with diabetes have some degree of diabetic retinopathy2, a diabetes complication that affects eyes.
“With the growing incidence of diabetes, it has been estimated that Diabetic retinopathy (DR) affects 1 in 3 people with diabetes and remains the leading cause of blindness in young working-aged adults. Early diagnosis and timely treatment are of utmost importance to prevent loss of vision due to diabetes, especially for younger people,” says Dr. Mahipal Sachdev, Medical Director & Chairman, Centre for Sight Group of Eye Hospitals, New Delhi.
Young population suffering from Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1 diabetes) are vulnerable to diabetic retinopathy, especially if they have diabetes for over 10 years. Even people suffering from Type-2 diabetes are at a risk of losing their eye-sight due to onset of diabetes-related retinal diseases. “The situation has particularly worsened over the past one-and-half year of the pandemic. Timely check-ups are vital to the long-term health of people with diabetes,” he added.
DME is the most common form of diabetic retinopathy, which arises when the damaged blood vessels swell and flow into the macula of the retina causing visibility issues in the normal vision. While medical advancements have made treatments easy and effective, it is the delay in diagnosis that leads to a high percentage of diabetic retinopathy cases. Experts opine that lack of compliance is a major limiting factor in ensuring universal coverage of systematic screening; a recent report revealed that nearly 70% of patients with diabetes never had their eyes screened for diabetic retinopathy2.
On being diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, it is important to adhere to the treatment and maintain a healthy lifestyle to effectively manage diabetes and to prevent the onset or progression of eye diseases.