Not only does India lead China in terms of population, but also for higher number of diabetic patients. A lot of studies, as well as experts, across the globe have hinted that diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness among working adults around the world and its prevalence is rising in India.
Take the case of 40-year-old Sukanya Mishra, who came to a city hospital complaining of blurry vision in her left eye. “The first question, that I ask my patients who complain of blurry vision, is if they have unstable diabetes,” said Dr Samyak Mulkutkar, a vitreo-retinal surgeon and uveitis specialist at PD Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai.
“I see at least ten patients like Mishra in a month, they come in with blurry vision which, upon further testing proves to be diabetic retinopathy. The major concern now is that this condition is rising among the working age group of people. If left untreated, it can result in irreversible blindness,” he added.
“Mishra came in the nick of time. Had she come a month later, she would have lost her eyesight completely. Fortunately, she came to me on time and I performed a laser surgery that helped her to maintain useful vision. This vision, however, is not the same as normal eyesight,” Dr Mulkutkar said.
Another specialist, Dr Nikhil V Nasta, a consulting eye and refractive surgeon at I Sight clinic, Dadar said, “Most of these cases go unnoticed. The screening is immensely important once a person is detected with diabetes. A lot of eye diseases are related to diabetes. The single common factor is stress. Excessive stress among the working age group not only leads to early cataracts, but also results in blindness caused due to diabetic retinopathy.”
Diabetic retinopathy doesn’t have any visible symptom at the initial stages. It does, however, cause blurry vision which most of us ignore. In the later stages, there can be retinal bleeding and blindness in many cases. “Most diabetologist have now started directing their patients to eye specialists to rule out diabetic retinopathy or even early cataract,” added Dr Mulkutkar.
The only available treatment for diabetic retinopathy is intro-vitral injections or laser surgery, but any of these can work only if diabetic retinopathy is detected early. “As much as 25 per cent of population who have diabetes suffer retinopathy. Most of them are in a working age group, due to stress and being overweight, the number of youths who have diabetes is also rising,” said Dr Harshavardhan Ghorpade, a Cornea, Cataract and Refractive Surgeon at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, a Fortis Network Hospital
“Also, given that diabetes is a lifelong disease, even post-surgery, there are chances of relapse of retinopathy. And, that’s why it is important to get one’s eyes screened every year after the operation,” he added.