The drastically increasing diabetic population worldwide is worrisome for health experts. Diabetes brings these people more to the risk of certain diseases such as diabetic eye disease. The retina specialists advise that if these diseases are detected at an early stage, it is possible to treat retinopathy which further reduces the risk of complete vision loss.
Diabetic eye disease or diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye-related medical condition in diabetic patients. It happens when the retina of the eyes is damaged in diabetic patients. When the blood sugar level gets higher, it blocks the blood vessels in the retina and damages it.
The retina is the inner part of each eye that senses light and sends signals to the brain to decode this light and hence help in vision creation. When the retina is damaged, nonfunctioning, or abnormally functioning blood vessels can cause vision problems.
Dr. Raba Thapa who is a retina specialist and works as an associate professor at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO), says that all these patients who came to the Retinopathy Department, at least 50 of them were experiencing the diabetic retinopathy. In addition to this, she said that these patients only seek medical help when their vision is impaired.
But for the diabetic retinopathy, there are no as such symptoms which may predict it at an early stage. However, in later stages, it may appear as blurry vision, inflammation of the retina, and pain in the eyes. If this problem is diagnosed at an early level, it is possible to treat its potential complications which is why any person who suspects this required immediate medical care.
The risk of diabetes increase in people who are in their middle ages, live a sedentary life, and have almost no physical activity along with unhealthy dietary choices. Doctors recommend that all those who are diagnosed with diabetes should frequently get checked for retinal damage. Typically, a retina exam should take place once a year by any certified ophthalmologist.
Dr. Thapa works at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Nepal where she recently worked on a project titled; “Integration of Diabetic Retinopathy Eye Care Services within Comprehensive Diabetes Management of General Public Health System in Nepal (2016-2019).”
During a meeting on this project’s presentation, it was discussed that this project has helped to design “national guidelines for the management of diabetic retinopathy in Nepal”.
Almost all leading health practitioners in the country were given the training to test diabetic people for retinopathy. As per an estimate, for this project, more than 20,000 persons were checked for diabetic retinopathy in different cities of Nepal.
The project also initiated awareness about diabetic retinopathy for common people as well as a medical practitioner. Furthermore, this project also distributed specialized medical equipment to health centers all across the country for diabetic eye disease or retinopathy diagnosis and treatment.
Nepal Health Research Council report ranks diabetes mellitus as number two among all non-communicable diseases (8.5 percent). It is second to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (11.7 percent) and together these two are two leading diseases that couldn’t be transmitted from one person to another, yet affect millions of people. Other examples of non-communicable diseases (NCD) include heart diseases, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc.
The research council further adds that people who are in their middle ages are at a higher risk of diabetes mellitus. Dr. Thapa shares that anemic patients or those with abnormal blood pressure or cholesterol along with smoking addiction and alcoholic habits are more likely to develop this condition. So everyone who falls under this category should get his eyes checked frequently.