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Diabetes a leading cause of blindness in working-age Indians: Experts

IANS Mar 13, 2024

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the working age group, said health experts on World Glaucoma Day on 12 March.

World Glaucoma Day is observed every year on March 12, to raise awareness about eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss and blindness if not treated early.

Diabetes is known to double the chances of having glaucoma, which hurts the optic nerve that is known to send visual information from the eyes to the brain.

“Diabetes Mellitus when uncontrolled affects all parts of the eye from the eyelids, cornea, lens, retina, and blood vessels of the eye and affects the eye pressures,” said Dr Aishwarya Krishnamurthy, Consultant - Endocrinology & Diabetes, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali.

“Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the working age group. The blood vessels in the retina may swell and leak fluid into your eye. If it's not treated, it can cause serious problems such as vision loss and retinal detachment, where the retina is pulled away from its normal position at the back of your eye,” added Dr Surender Kumar, Sr Endocrinologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

According to a recent study, published in the Lancet journal, approximately 21 million people in India are visually impaired, including 2.4 million that are blind. The figures are set to increase as diabetes -- a significant risk factor for vision loss -- is soaring in the country.

The 10th edition of the International Federation Diabetes Atlas 2021 estimates that there are 74 million people aged 20-79 years affected by diabetes in India, and this number is expected to increase to 125 million by 2045.

Dr Rajeev Gupta, Director - of Internal Medicine at the CK Birla Hospital, Delhi said that diabetes also raises the risk of a host of other eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, macular oedema, and dry eyes -- all of which can decrease vision or even blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.

However, the experts noted that vision loss is preventable if the blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol remain controlled.

They recommended all patients with diabetes undergo regular eye examinations, follow a healthy eating plan, engage in regular physical activity, and quit smoking.

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