HYDERABAD: India is home to the second largest number of adults living with diabetes
(69.2 million). Hence it is one of the largest global health emergencies of 21 st century.
Poorly managed diabetes can lead to complications like blindness, kidney failure and cardiac problems. One of the most common eye ailment caused due to diabetes is Diabetic Retinopathy. In fact, almost 2/3 of all type 2 and almost all of type 1 diabetics are expected to develop Diabetic Retinopathy over a period of time. Recent study has estimated the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy at 21.7% in India.
Diabetic Macular Oedema (DME) is another major cause of vision loss in diabetics occurring due to leakage from blood vessels. Diabtetes can also lead to cataract, rubeosis iridis, glaucoma, retinal vascular occlusion, optic neuropathy, ocular muscular palsies and corneal epitheliopathy.
Retinopathy however can become quite advanced before patient notices signs and symptoms, mainly vision loss, and it is therefore essential that diabetics have regular eye screenings. A preferred practice pattern of screening for diabetics based on age of patients and retinopathy findings are If one is diagnosed with diabetic Retinopathy,· Before 30 years of age, they should get an eye check-up done within 5 years of being diagnosed with diabetes· 31 and older- get an eye test as soon they are diagnosed of being diabetic
· During pregnancy - Early days of the first trimester Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can prevent blindness.
Some of the essentials for maintaining eye health among diabetics are
1. Good blood glucose control (HbA1c <= 7%)-High levels of Blood sugar can result in bleeding of blood vessels on retina resulting in loss of Vision. Hence, it’s important to ensure that Blood sugar levels are under control.
2. Blood pressure control – Hypertension plays a major role in the progression of diabetic retinopathy. So tight control of hypertension is mandatory.
3. Normal Body Mass Index – BMI is an assessment by physicians and health experts to determine if a person is within a healthy weight range. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk of developing health problems. Maintaining the right BMI is very important to control diabetic lead eye ailments.
4. Normal blood lipid levels: Reduce the consumption of saturated fats, trans fats, and hydrogenated fats. A healthy diet coupled with regular physical activity can go a long way in ensuring eye health among diabetics.
5. Normal haemoglobin level- In case of anemia, consult a doctor and undertake the necessary treatment, because if left unattended it can adversely affect the eyes.
6. Normal kidney function- Diabetics should undergo regular renal check-up as a breakdown of one organ can deteriorate their overall as well as eye health
7. Quit smoking- smoking aggravates the risk of micro- and macro-vascular complications of diabetes mellitus. Hence it’s advised to quit smoking.
(The doctor is , Senior Vitreo Retinal Surgeon, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye hospital, Hyderabad.)
It is as the wise say, ‘Prevention is always better than cure’!