One out of three people with uncontrolled diabetes develop diabetic retinopathy

NOIDA / November 14, 2022: One out of every three people with uncontrolled diabetes for 10-12 years develop diabetic retinopathy which, if not treated in time, causes irreparable eye damage and vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy is the third leading cause of blindness in India after cataract and glaucoma, but majority of Indians are not even aware that diabetes has an impact on the eyes. This was stated by Dr. Saurabh Choudhry, CEO, ICARE Eye Hospital, Noida, one of Delhi-NCR’s oldest and largest NABH-accredited eye hospitals established in 1993.

Said Dr. Saurabh Choudhry, CEO of ICARE Eye Hospital, Noida: “According to recent studies, 63% of Indians lack awareness that diabetes can damage eye health. In fact, 93% of diabetic patients in the country tend to visit an ophthalmologist only after they have started experiencing vision problems. But at that stage, the damage to the eye is significant and treatment becomes difficult. Eyes are a window to the body. Through regular eye checkups, diabetes-induced changes in the eyes can be picked up early, even though the patient has no symptoms. In fact, a huge number of cases of diabetes get diagnosed due to a routine eye exam! It is recommended that all healthy people should undergo an eye exam once a year, and diabetic patients should see an eye doctor once every four months.”

He added: “About 80% of patients of diabetic retinopathy face visual challenges while driving, reading, or working. Early detection, keeping good control of sugar levels and availability of laser procedures can allow diabetic patients to maintain good vision lifelong. Unfortunately, most patients in India, even though belonging to the affluent, educated class of the society, do not undergo regular screening for either eyes or diabetes, and reach us in advanced stages when treatment becomes a challenge. Regular eye screening and on-time treatment is mandatory for a diabetic patient to prevent complications of retinopathy.”

Over 95 million adults have diabetic retinopathy in the world. About 80% of them face visual challenges while driving, reading or working. Apart from diabetic retinopathy, diabetes also leads to dry eyes and early onset of cataracts. Diabetic patients tend to get cataracts in mid-fifties, about ten years earlier than people without diabetes, according to the doctor.

Said Dr. Saurabh Choudhry: “Most patients in India do not realize they have diabetes until or unless they need to go to a hospital due to some complication of the disease. Routine eye screening is not a priority in India, leading to large number of diabetic patients turning blind or landing up at hospitals for prolonged treatment, which is expensive for their families and not sustainable if they are from an underprivileged socio-economic background.”

ICARE Eye Hospital, a tertiary eye hospital, gets referred cases from all Delhi-NCR and beyond. Its Retina Department, with a state-of-the-art retina department, is staffed by dedicated retina specialists. It gets a daily footfall of over 150 patients, out of which about 100 are diabetic. Out of these 100, about 40 are found to suffer from diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in retina get damaged due to high blood sugar levels in the body. Early symptoms include floaters, blurriness, blank or dark areas of vision, poor night vision and difficulty perceiving colors. While mild cases can be treated with proper diabetes management, advanced cases require laser treatment or surgery.

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