KATHMANDU, Nov 20: In recent years, there has been a concerning rise in vision loss attributed to diabetes.
A 2020 study on the impact of diabetes on the eyes revealed that 19.4 percent of individuals with diabetes experienced eye-related issues, with a significant 50 percent facing severe consequences.
This data was obtained from a study conducted on patients who visited the country's main eye hospital seeking treatment. According to the Nepal Blindness Survey 1985, the number of eyesight loss in the country due to various reasons was three percent and in 2011, this number increased to nine percent.
Diabetes is the main reason behind the increase in the number of blindness in Nepal, said Dr Eli Pradhan, medical retina consultant at Tilganga Eye Center. Pradhan explains, "Although the number of patients should have been low due to ease of treatment and awareness, the number of patients has increased due to diabetes."
Pradhan said that the number of diabetic patients has been increasing in recent years due to comfortable lifestyles and poor diet.
Statistics indicate that one in three people with diabetes encounters vision problems. Dr Rawa Thapa, a vitreo-retinal surgeon at Tilganga Hospital, explains that diabetes affects the optic nerve, leading to gradual vision loss. Due to late treatment, they lost their eyesight, said Dr Thapa. “Even if you get timely treatment, even if you don't get proper treatment, your eyesight will be lost,” Dr Thapa stated.
According to Dr Pradhan, diabetes increases the amount of sugar in the blood vessels. This process also occurs in the optic canal of the eye. Diabetes causes problems such as the constriction of the eye vessels, infection, and bleeding on the retinal surface, and reduced blood circulation. In such a case, the eye membrane ruptures, and vision is lost. In the case of latent diabetes, the retina of the eye is torn.
Dr Pradhan suggests individuals with diabetes should undergo regular eye examinations. Every healthy person should have an eye check-up once a year. This helps in timely information about the effects of diabetes on the eyes.
Dr Pradhan mentioned, “If you can detect diabetes in time and get your eyes checked soon, it will minimize the risk of vision loss.” "Due to diabetes, if the vision is lost, it cannot be restored; therefore, it is appropriate to undergo regular eye examinations and manage diabetes in a timely manner," says Dr Pradhan. Dr Pradhan added that regular eye check-ups and consistent diabetes management are the right measures until restoring vision becomes possible.
If there is a problem with the eyesight due to diabetes, the symptoms such as blurred vision and difficulty in close reading are experienced. However, doctors say that most of the symptoms appear only when the eyesight is affected, so that diabetes can cause eye damage.
If diabetes has already occurred, they suggest that it can be controlled with regular medication or other procedures, and if even for those without diabetes, an annual eye examination can safeguard vision.
According to international diabetes statistics, one in every 10 people suffers from diabetes. In low-income countries, the ratio is even higher, with one in every four individuals being diabetic among every four people with reduced income.