Diabetics more prone to retinopathy leading to blindness

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New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Diabetic retinopathy is emerging as an important factor for blindness among people with eye related diseases, a leading ophthalmologist said here on Wednesday.

He said that over 50 percent of the patients in India with cataract and infection are diabetic and will permanently lose their vision, as the blood vessels of the eye are damaged in the later stage.

Diabetic retinopathy “vision-threatening damage to the retina of the eye caused by diabetes” is the leading cause of blindness among working-age people of the world, which has aggravated in India in the past two decades.

It is an ocular manifestation of diabetes, a systemic disease, which affects up to 80 percent of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more.

“People can hardly imagine the level of damage diabetes can do to human eyes. Diabetes affects the retina of the eyes. It starts with partial vision loss leading to complete vision loss in a couple of years,” Jeevan Singh Titiyal, professor at R.P. Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences told IANS.

Titiyal is credited with the first live cornea transplant surgery by an Indian doctor.

He said that every diabetic patient starts having negative changes in the retina of their eyes soon after becoming diabetic, which can be diagnosed and treated if an eye specialist is consulted.

“Eye specialist can figure out the level of damage diabetes has caused to the eyes. Infact every diabetic patient has atleast 20 percent retinal problems which improves if well taken care off by treatment. The problem if it aggravates, needs surgery,” said Titiyal.

According to AIIMS statistics, around 50-60 lakh surgeries are conducted in India every year out of which atleast 15 lakh surgeries are related to diabetic retinopathy.

Speaking on the topic, Praveen Vashist, additional professor, community ophthalmology at AIIMS, said that to check the actual number of diabetic retinopathies in Delhi, AIIMS had conducted check ups of 10,000 people, out of which 1,246 people were found to be suffering from diabetic retinopathy and had almost become partially blind.

“We had set up 166 camps across Delhi specially in the slums. Out of the total number of people suffering from diabetic retinopathy 550 were brought to AIIMS and were provided free treatment,” Vashist told IANS.

Speaking on the symptoms of the disease, the experts said that diabetic patients with fluctuation in vision and partial whitening or excess reddening of the eyes should immediately consult an ophthalmologist.

“Such disorders need special attention as scanning with improved laser technology is important to see the effect on the eyes,” he added.

“We are also focusing on acquiring the advanced laser techniques, so that the treatment and surgeries become more easier,” said Titiyal.

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