World Health Day, theme for 2021 is to build a fairer and healthier world. Our world is an unequal one. This is not only unfair but it is preventable. This day is a call for everyone who can be an element of change to ensure that everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health.
Our health system should expand in such a way that everyone, everywhere can realise the right to good health. In today’s World lifestyle diseases like Diabetes, hypertension and obesity are the major cause of illness.
Visual disability is an important cause of preventable disability.
Leading cause of blindness worldwide and in India are age related macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy irrespective of your socioeconomic background.
Diabetes mellitus is a significant public health burden in the country. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common complication that leads to profound visual loss if not detected and treated early.
Studies show that the knowledge and awareness about this blinding disease- diabetic retinopathy ranged between 17% to 93.2%. This suggests there is a considerable amount of disparity among various classes and regions of the country. There is a pressing need to create awareness among the public about this preventable visual loss.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
If you have diabetes you may suffer from damage to the retina which is at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy happens due to damage to the very tiny blood vessels that supply the retina.
Initially there may be small leaks of fluid or blood or both.
In due course the blood vessels get blocked and deprive the retina of oxygen.This increasing demand for oxygen stimulates the indiscriminate growth of new vessels which bleed easily to cause massive blood leak and profound visual loss.
Who are at risk ?
The longer you have had diabetes the higher your risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. People who are diabetic for more than thirty years are at greater risk than those who are recently found to be diabetic. Also, people with poor blood sugar control are more likely to develop complication than those whose sugar levels are adequately controlled.
Having associated high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, Kidney diseases or being a smoker or being obese can worsen the retinopathy.
The visual loss is silent, aptly naming diabetic retinopathy as the “Silent Sight Stealer”. Therefore,it is vital that you have regular eye check up to detect it.
The annual screening test should include testing your
2.taking digital photographs of your retina ( to compare with previous examination).
Few more tests which is sometimes done at the eye hospital are
Fundus Fluorescein Angiography to look for swollen, leaking and abnormal new vessels &
OCT(optical coherence Tomography) of the Macula to reveal fluid or lipid (fat) accumulation in the retina.
A wide range of treatment option from LASER photocoagulation to intra vitreal injections of anti- VEGF are there to prevent progression to end stage disease. But if you have a bleed into the eye’s vitreous ( jelly like centre of the eye) or develop a detached retina, retina surgery like vitrectomy with gas or Silicon oil tamponade may be needed.
So, have regular eye check ups and avoid this sight threatening disease from stealing your quality of life.
Making healthy choices and getting regular eye exams can reduce a person’s risk of visual loss.
Early detection and treatment is critical to preserving sight.
A stich in time saves nine.
Dr K Kavitha Lakshmi, M.S, FMRF(Phaco)
Dr KK Surgical and Paediatric Centre,
Selaiyur, East Tambaram,