All diabetic patients are at risk of developing retinopathy: Dr. Manisha Agarwal, Eye Specialist | The Financial Express

All diabetic patients are at risk of developing retinopathy: Dr. Manisha Agarwal, Eye Specialist

Meanwhile, the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy could be something as simple as blurring of reading vision and it is the most common symptom, Dr. Agarwal told Financial Express.com.

All diabetic patients are at risk of developing retinopathy: Dr. Manisha Agarwal, Eye Specialist
World Diabetes Day Theme 2022: Dr. Manisha Agarwal, Head of Vitreo-Retina Services at Shroff Charity Eye Hospital and General Secretary of Vitreo-Retinal Society of India (Screengrab)

World Diabetes Day: The burden of diabetes is high and increasing globally and with an alarmingly number of cases of the lifestyle disease, India is known as the ‘Diabetes Capital of the World’. According to reports, the estimates in 2019 showed that 77 million individuals had diabetes in India, which is expected to rise to over 134 million by 2045.

Several studies have pointed out that approximately 57% of these individuals remain undiagnosed. According to a 2021 study in the Indian Journal of Opthamology, type 2 diabetes, which accounts for majority of the cases, can lead to multiorgan complications, broadly divided into microvascular and macrovascular complications.

Any patient with diabetes is at risk of developing retinopathy: Dr. Manisha Agarwal, Eye Specialist

According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally and diabetes is one of the major NCDs prevalent across the world. Studies show that the diabetic retinopathy is recognised as the most specific complication of diabetes.

Meanwhile, the spectrum of eye disorders in diabetes in India report, pan-India facility-based study, concluded that diabetic retinopathy was prevalent in one-third and sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy in one-fifth of people with type 2 diabetes presenting at 14 eye-care facilities.

On the ocassion of World Diabetes Day, Financial Express.com reached out to Dr. Manisha Agarwal, Head of Vitreo-Retina Services at Shroff Charity Eye Hospital and General Secretary of Vitreo-Retinal Society of India and she talked about the the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy, it’s causes and symptoms and preventive measures that should be taken by every diabetic patient.

According to Dr. Agarwal, any patient suffering from diabetes is at the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

“…Any diabetic, whether young or an old patient whether the patient is of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Any patient suffering from diabetes is at the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes affects the small blood vessels of the body and it can be in any part…it can be in your limbs, it can be in the heart..any part of the body. It can be affected by diabetes and eyes are no exception. So, when the small blood vessels of the eyes especially the retina…and it is known as diabetic retinopathy and it can cause a very subtle changes in the vision without the patient even realising,” Dr. Agarwal told Financial Express.com.

She also informed that the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in India is about 16% to 18%.

“…but what is more alarming is that 45% of the patients when they present for an eye-checkup in our clinic, they have already lost vision secondary to diabetes and that is something which is a major concern among all the eye specialist like me,” she added.

On causes and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, Dr. Agarwal told Financial Express.com that the most important cause of diabetic retinopathy is the duration of diabetes.

“So, many patient think they have good control over their diabetes and they will not develop diabetic retinopathy…so that is a very big misconception. If you are a diabetic and if you have more than five years of type 1 diabetes you are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy while if you are a type 2 diabetic, the day you are diagnosed with diabetes you have to get your eyes checked because you may not even be aware of that for how many years you have been a diabetic and all you know that you already have or you may be having an advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy without you even knowing about it,” she said.

Meanwhile, the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy could be something as simple as bluring of reading vision and it is the most common symptom.

“You start realising that you are not able to read the small prints of the newspapers or the books that you routinely read. But where the patients go wrong is, they walk into a optical shop, they get their eyes checked and they take a new pair of glasses…It is only when the diabetic retinopathy becomes more advanced that you can have symptoms like floaters, you can have a significant amount of significant vision loss which is not getting corrected by a change of pair of glasses. You can also have you know a sudden blackout you know in front of the vision that could be secondary to the bleeding inside the eye and last but not the least you could have a black curtain coming in front of the eye because of the detachment of the retina. So, we have to aware of all the symptoms and we should not ignore if we have any blurring of vision in our eyes,” she added.

According to Dr. Agarwal, there is absolutely no difference in the manifestations of the diabetic retinopathy.

“The only concern is the patients having type 1 diabetes, the progression of the diabetic retinopathy is going to very fast in a very aggressive mode. In type 2 diabetes, you get enough time to get your eyes screened and manage. It is not usually in such an aggressive stage. The prevalence is about 16% to 18% but usually when we compare our diabetic patients with western diabetic patients, the problem is here the patient present very late because the awareness of the diabetic retinopathy is very less…We need to realise that the diabetes in affecting the retina. So we have to make sure that the patients have undergone complete eye-examination including retinal examination,” she said.

Dr. Agarwal also informed that there are several other kinds of retinopathy but the diabetic retinopathy is at present is the most common.

“As far as the treatment is concerned, it primarily comprises of three things one is the the intravitreal injections which are given inside the eye and helps in the regression of the new blood vessels, the second is the  laser photocoagulation which again helps in the regression of new blood vessels and last but not the least are the complex retinal surgeries for cases like eye hemorrhage or retinal detachment,” Dr. Agarwal said.

She also emphasised that complete retinal examination for diabetic retinopathy every year is necessary.

“We take so many selfies of ourselves please learn to take a selfie of your retina and know on on time about whether you are suffering diabetic retinopathy. As I mentioned please do not wait for the diabetic retinopathy to cause a loss of vision…On the basis of your retinal examination, your eye specialist will tell you how frequently you need to get tested. So, please get your eyes checked at least once a year,” she added.

ALSO READ | Diabetic macular edema market across 7 major markets set to reach $11.1 billion in 2031: GlobalData

Get live Share Market updates and latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download Financial Express App for latest business news.

First published on: 14-11-2022 at 13:34 IST