HYDERABAD: FICCI and Vision 2020, organised a multi-stakeholder conclave to highlight the impact of the pandemic on people living with compromised vision due to various eye-related ailments.India has among the world’s highest proportion of blind people, around 4.8 million, as per the revised definition of blindness institutionalised in 2019 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, bringing India’s blind population down by 47 per cent.
Most cases of blindness (92.9%) and visual impairment (96.2%) in India, are due to avoidable or preventable causes. There are four common eye ailments that lead to preventable blindness — cataract, glaucoma and retina diseases like Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Diabetes Macular Edema (DME). If diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion, patient’s vision can be saved.Experts at the conclave highlighted the challenges faced by visually impaired patients, due to Covid-19 and the associated lockdown.
“While we all are coping up with the new normal, the national lockdown adversely impacted the lives of people with various eye diseases such as cataract, glaucoma and retinal diseases unable to visit doctor for a check-up. With the restricted movements, we expect more people to be impacted with visual disabilities and severe visual impairment. Studies suggest that elderly patients who report functional vision problems are 90% more likely to be depressed, than patients who do not report such problems,” said Dr Phanindra Babu Nukella, CEO, VISION 2020 INDIA & Country Chair, IAPB.
According to Raja Narayanan, Hon General Secretary, Vitreo Retina Society of India (VRSI), “There is an urgent need to prioritise eye health in the public health domain, by raising awareness and encouraging people to recognise early symptoms such as watering eyes, redness and dryness, blurred vision. We have seen a rapid surge in diagnosis of retinal diseases like AMD and DME during the lockdown.”