Diabetes doesn’t just cause fatigue and irritability. It can cause real damage to your body. Diabetes, hypertension or a combination of the two cause 80% of end-stage kidney disease worldwide.
India is on its way to becoming the diabetes capital of the world. There are approximately 74 million cases of diabetes in the adult population in 2021 and experts from the International Diabetes Federation predict that number will reach 93 million in 2030 and 124 million in 2045.1.
Diabetes doesn’t just cause fatigue and irritability. It can cause real damage to your body. Diabetes, hypertension or a combination of the two cause 80% of end-stage kidney disease worldwide2. Diabetes and chronic kidney disease are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease. Diabetic foot and lower extremity complications, which affect 40-60 million people with diabetes worldwide, are a significant source of morbidity in people with diabetes2. Chronic ulcers and amputations lead to a significant reduction in quality of life and increase the risk of early death2.
Another known complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy – an eye condition that is the most common cause of vision loss in people with diabetes. Based on an analysis of 35 studies conducted worldwide between 1980 and 2008, the overall prevalence of any diabetic retinopathy in people with diabetes using retinal images has been estimated at 35%, with diabetic retinopathy threatening vision present in 12%2. In India, this problem is complicated by lack of awareness and the high prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes. An estimated 43.9 million Indians have diabetes, but have not yet been diagnosed2.
So how does diabetic retinopathy affect vision? High blood sugar, when left unchecked, creates blockages in the small blood vessels that keep your retina healthy. The retina is a lining at the back of the eye that transforms light into images. Blood vessels can swell, leak, or bleed, often leading to vision changes or blindness. This condition usually affects both eyes. When left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can scar and damage your retina and lead to vision loss4.
Diabetic retinopathy can affect people with all types of diabetes, whether it is type I diabetes, type II diabetes or gestational diabetes. Nearly two-thirds of all patients with type II diabetes and almost all patients with type I diabetes are expected to develop diabetic retinopathy over a period of time3.
You may not have any signs of diabetic retinopathy until the disease is already advanced. That’s why regular screening is essential – it’s a condition that can be prevented, but not reversed. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include blurred vision, inability to see colors, holes or floaters, or black spots in your vision. However, one of the first symptoms is a reading or driving problem.4. So if you’re starting to notice this and your blood reports put you in the diabetic or prediabetic category, it’s time to get tested.
Understanding the importance of diabetic retinopathy screening, Network 18 launched the initiative “Netra Suraksha” – India Against Diabetes, in association with Novartis. The initiative aims to raise awareness of diabetes and eye-related complications like diabetic retinopathy, the silent thief of sight. It aims to do so with the help of India’s medical community, think tanks and policy makers. In addition to regular roundtables and awareness campaigns, the initiative has also created a diabetic retinopathy self-check and will publish a number of articles and videos that will help people with diabetes (and those who are pre- diabetics) to better manage their overall health. health, especially that of their eyes.
Do your part: get yourself and your loved ones tested for diabetic retinopathy today. Start with the diabetic retinopathy self-check, and while you’re at it, make an appointment to have your blood sugar and blood pressure tested. Even if your blood sugar and blood pressure tests are clear, be sure to see an eye doctor at least once a year for a comprehensive eye exam.
A non-invasive and painless test is the first step in effectively combating the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Your doctor will dilate your pupils to look for any changes in the blood vessels in your eye or to see if new vessels have grown. They will also check if your retina is swollen or detached. All of this takes less than an hour.
Even if you are diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, all is not lost. Diabetic retinopathy is a manageable condition, and after catching it early, you can take steps to prevent it from progressing further. In fact, type II diabetes is now considered a reversible disease, especially in the early stages.5. Give yourself the best chance of beating it, thanks to early detection!
As lifestyles and diets change, diabetic retinopathy is becoming an increasingly serious threat to eye health in India. Follow News18.com for more updates on the Netra Suraksha initiative and join the fight to save your loved ones from diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.
- IDF Atlas, International Diabetes Federation, 10th Edition, 2021
- IDF Atlas, International Diabetes Federation, 9th edition, 2019
- Gadkari SS, Maskati QB, Nayak BK. Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy in India: All India Ophthalmological Society Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Study 2014. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology. 2016 Jan;64(1):38.
- https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/diabetic-retinopathy December 10, 2021
- https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes-reversible#type-1-vs-type-2 December 10, 2021
Grab the NetraSuraksha self-check here.