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Diabetic retinopathy major cause of preventable blindness in India


New Delhi: Diabetic retinopathy is one of the biggest causes of preventable blindness among Indian adults, doctors said.

Calling diabetes an uncontrolled disease in India with 65 million cases, the doctors say that at least 40 percent of the severe diabetics will suffer from diabetic retinopathy if steps are not taken to control it.

“Diabetic retiniopathy is the most dangerous eye disease that a diabetic patient can suffer. Though the disease existed for long, but in the recent years it has emerged as one of the major problems among diabetics,” said Roshani Gadge, consultant at Shreya Diabetes Centre.

Explaining diabetic retinopathy, she said: “It is the result of damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourishes the retina. They leak blood and other fluids that causes swelling of retinal tissue and clouding of vision. The condition usually affects both eyes.”

According to AIIMS statistics, around 50-60 lakh surgeries are conducted in India every year out of which at least 15 lakh surgeries are related to diabetic retinopathy.

Gadge said that as diabetes is occurring more among the younger population, these patients live with the disease for almost three decades which makes them more prone to diabetic retinopathy.

Praveen Vashist, additional professor, community ophthalmology at AIIMS, said that to check the actual number of diabetic retinopathies in Delhi, AIIMS had conducted check-ups of 10,000 people, out of which 1,246 were found suffering from diabetic retinopathy and had almost become partially blind.

“We had set up 166 camps across Delhi, specially in the slums. Of the total number of people suffering from diabetic retinopathy, 550 were brought to AIIMS and provided free treatment,” Vashist told IANS.

Pradeep Singh of Safdarjung Hospital said that though not every diabetic becomes prone to diabetic retinopathy, they do suffer from other eye problems such as cataract.

“A longer-term effect of diabetes is that the lens of your eye can go cloudy, which again needs surgery,” he said.

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