India reports sharp increase in diabetes-related vision loss among young people

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One in three people living with diabetes have some degree of diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes

New Delhi: With 77 million people in India living with diabetes, a simultaneous and sharp increase in the prevalence of preventable vision loss linked to diabetes has been observed, especially among young people, according to experts.

Diabetic retinopathy is a chronic and progressive retinal disease that is one of the leading causes of visual impairment in young adults today, the working population. It is a major concern in children with juvenile diabetes (type 1 diabetes) and especially if they have had diabetes for more than 10 years.

It is estimated that around 1.1 crore people suffer from retinal disorders in India and, more alarmingly, around one in three people living with diabetes suffer from some degree of diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes.

“With the increasing incidence of diabetes, it has been estimated that diabetic retinopathy affects one in three people with diabetes and remains the leading cause of blindness in young working-age adults,” Mahipal Sachdev, medical director and president of the Center for Sight Group of Eye Hospital, said the IANS.

“About 7 to 10 percent of young people with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy, of which 2 to 4 percent will have vision-threatening sequelae if not properly treated.” added Dr Aditya Sudhalkar, MS Ophthalmology, consultant in vitreoretinal surgery.

“The most common form of diabetic retinopathy”

The most common form of diabetic retinopathy is diabetic macular edema (DME) which occurs when damaged blood vessels swell and enter the macula of the retina, causing visibility problems in normal vision.

According to Dr Chaitra Jayadev, Senior Vitreoretinal Consultant, Narayana Nethralaya Eye Institute Karnataka, studies have shown that the prevalence of DME and diabetic retinopathy is higher and more severe in young diabetics with longer duration of diabetes. long.

“Diabetes in younger people is a separate disease entity characterized by a more aggressive presentation and manifestation. Earlier onset of diabetes leads to longer exposure to insulin resistance and high blood sugar. This gives rise to a greater propensity to develop microvascular and macrovascular complications with long term complications, ”said Dr. Jayadev.

Diabetes screening is important

Thus, screening for diabetes is of the utmost importance even if one is “young” and has no symptoms. This becomes more crucial if one has risk factors such as a family history, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, or long-term steroid medication.

Dr Sudhalkar said that in India there is a general reluctance to visit clinics and nearly 25 percent of young DME patients arrive late for diagnosis.

“It is important to know that only 11% of patients with diabetic retinopathy can actually reverse the vision-threatening sequelae once they set in. The rest continue to progress even with strict blood sugar control,” he said. he noted.

“Retinopathy, unfortunately, is the most overlooked complication of diabetes. We see so many patients going to an OPD where their eyes have not been examined. Thus, screening, also known under the name of Funduscopy, must be performed at the time of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, in adults and in children, five years after the onset of diabetes, then every year ”, a Dr Dheeraj Kapoor, HOD, Endocrinology at Artemis, Gurugram, told IANS.

If diabetes occurs near puberty, a fundus exam should be done to check for potential retinopathy.

“This is important because the disease has no symptoms in the first few days. And once the symptoms set in, like bleeding in the eyes, red vision, sudden loss of vision, it is too late. “said Kapoor.

Doctors have advised taking treatment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to effectively manage diabetes and prevent the onset or progression of eye disease.

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