Diabetes triggers high blood glucose and elevated cholesterol levels, further resulting in complications like diabetic eye diseases (diabetic retinopathy), diabetic neuropathy (foot ulcers), cardiovascular disorders, etc. 

How severe is the scenario in India?

The National Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy Survey, conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Science, has revealed that the overall prevalence of diabetes in India is approximately 12%, with both males and females equally affected. While there are around 8% known cases of diabetes in the country, the remaining 3.8% are newly diagnosed ones. 

The study further stated that the chances of people developing diabetes increases with age. Around 13% of people aged above 65 and up to 80 are more prone to falling prey to the chronic condition. Whereas, more than 12% of Indians above 50 years of age are diabetic. 

Shockingly, poorly managed blood sugar levels is very evident among the diabetic population in our country. In spite of around 85% diabetics receiving necessary medication for blood glucose management, as many as 60% are still living in poorly managed conditions. 

The study pointed out concerning findings for the diabetic ophthalmology situation in the country. It also revealed that 1 in every 7 persons living with diabetes, experiences some kind of visual disorder. So much so that 1 in every 46 diabetic patients has completely lost vision. Let’s know more about diabetic retinopathy, one of the widely known diabetic eye diseases. 

What do people know about Diabetic Retinopathy?

Colloquially referred to as DR, diabetic retinopathy develops in more than 16% diabetic patients in India. It is caused when the blood vessels present in the retina, are damaged due to high blood sugar levels. If timely and proper preventive measures are not taken, the condition can get quite severe. Diabetic retinopathy can even blind the patient either partially or completely. Here are some common myths and facts about the condition:

Myth 1: As recent sugar levels are normal, there is no chance of any diabetes complications.

Fact: Complications due to diabetes arise when an individual has had poorly managed blood sugar levels for a much longer time. In fact, diabetics with a strict diabetes care regime right from the start, experience better results as compared to those who have a very casual approach towards their condition. 

Myth 2: When sugar levels are under control, complications like diabetes retinopathy, neuropathy or nephropathy do not take place.

Fact: Diabetes retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, etc. develop because of ill-managed blood sugar levels along with other medical conditions like high blood pressure, anemia, abnormal cholesterol levels, smoking, alcohol, etc. Hence, diabetics should make sure that they should have a healthy lifestyle. 

Myth 3: Frequent eyeglasses’ power checkups are not necessary for diabetic retinopathy

Fact: In order to have proper eye care in diabetic retinopathy, regular glasses power checkups (refraction) is a quintessential phenomenon. Diabetics, in their early stages of diabetic retinopathy, should go for complete eye examination including eye pressure checking, angles, cornea, lens, pupillary response, etc. It is only after these tests that diabetic retinopathy symptoms can be curbed. 

Myth 4: Diabetics with fine vision and no other symptoms do not need a dilated retinal test

Fact: Diabetics’ vision is usually not hampered until the macula (central part of the retina) is affected. Besides, there can be several developments in the eye due to diabetic retinopathy, which may not be noticed at first, but do need urgent treatment. Hence, complete eye checkup is mandatory to understand the condition. 

The Final Word

Diabetic retinopathy is a very crucial eye condition that can lead to diminished eyesight or even complete loss of eyesight. People with diabetes should consult with their caregivers and follow preventive measures at the earliest.