Do the NetraSuraksha Self Check here.
India is on the cusp of becoming the diabetic capital of the world. There are approximately 74 million cases of diabetes in the adult population as of 2021, and experts from the International Diabetes Federation predict that number will rise to 93 million by 2030 and 124 million by 20451.
Diabetes doesn’t just cause fatigue and irritability. It can cause real damage to your body. Diabetes, hypertension, or a combination of both are responsible for 80% of end-stage renal disease worldwide2. Both diabetes and chronic kidney disease are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease. Diabetic foot and lower extremity complications, which affect 40 to 60 million people with diabetes worldwide, are a major 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 premature 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 diabetic retinopathy in people with diabetes was estimated to be 35% using images of the retina with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy at 12%2. In India, this problem is complicated by the lack of awareness and high prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes. It is estimated that 43.9 million Indians have diabetes, but it has not yet been diagnosed2.
So how does diabetic retinopathy affect vision? High blood glucose levels, when left unchecked, create blockages in the small blood vessels that keep your retina healthy. The retina is a lining at the back of the eye that processes light into images. The blood vessels may swell, leak fluid, or bleed, often leading to vision changes or blindness. This condition usually affects both eyes. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can scar and damage your retina and cause vision loss4.
Diabetic retinopathy can affect people with all types of diabetes, be it type I, type II, or gestational diabetes. Nearly two-thirds of all patients with type II diabetes and nearly all patients with type I diabetes are expected to develop diabetic retinopathy over time3.
You may not have signs of diabetic retinopathy until the condition is already advanced. That’s why regular screening is essential – this is 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 difficulty reading or driving4. So if you’re starting to notice this, and if your blood reports place you in the diabetic or pre-diabetic range, it’s time to get tested.
Network 18 understands the importance of screening for diabetic retinopathy and, in partnership with Novartis, has launched the ‘Netra Suraksha’ – India Against Diabetes initiative. The initiative aims to raise awareness about diabetes and eye-related complications, such as diabetic retinopathy, the silent thief of vision. It aims to do this with the help of the Indian medical community, think tanks and policy makers. Aside from roundtables and regular awareness campaigns, the initiative has also created a Diabetic Retinopathy Self Check Up and will publish a number of articles and videos that will help people with diabetes (and those who are pre-diabetic) improve their overall health, and in particular those 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 make an appointment right away to test your blood glucose levels and blood pressure. Even if your blood glucose and blood pressure tests are clear, make sure you see an eye doctor at least once a year for a complete eye exam.
A non-invasive painless test is the first step in effectively controlling the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Your doctor will dilate your pupils to look for any changes in your eye’s blood vessels or to see if any new ones have grown. They will also check to see if your retina is swollen or detached. All 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 if you detect it early, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it from progressing further. In fact, type II diabetes is now considered a reversible disease, especially in the early stages5. Give yourself the best chance of beating it, through early detection!
As lifestyles and diets change, diabetic retinopathy is becoming an increasing 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.
1. IDF Atlas, International Diabetes Federation, 10th Edition, 2021
2. IDF Atlas, International Diabetes Federation, 9th Edition, 2019
3. Gadkari SS, Maskati QB, Nayak BK. Prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in India : the all India ophthalmic society diabetic retinopathy eye screening study 2014. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology. 2016 Jan;64(1):38.
4. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/diabetic-retinopathy December 10, 2021
5. https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes-reversible#type-1-vs-type-2 December 10, 2021
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