Controlling Diabetic Retinopathy in India: It won’t be easy

of India Due to the speed of steady economic development, people’s living standards have greatly improved compared to before. Above all, people’s lives have become much easier in big cities and urban areas. The lifestyle of people living in cities is now very similar to that of Western countries. As a result of this better lifestyle, urban Indians are far away from many chronic diseases and difficult conditions. He is not bothered by problems such as malnutrition, poor sanitation, dirty food and water.

Every coin has another side, the same is true here. With better living standards, expanding urbanization and better food facilities, lifestyle diseases are also on the rise. The increase in obesity, especially in children, and obesity have also led to the spread of diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

In 2019, the number of diabetic patients in India reached 77 million. In addition, there were 43.9 million patients whose disease could not be identified. Globally, one in two adult diabetic patients (there is also a higher number of type 2 diabetes, between 20 and 79 years old) is not aware of their disease and its symptoms.

This number is expected to increase in the future. According to the Atlas of the International Diabetes Federation 2019, the number of diabetic patients is expected to increase to 101 million by 2030. By 2045 this number will increase to 134 million. In a country like India where there is a crisis in health services, it will be a big challenge. Along with diabetes, there is also the risk of suffering from many other diseases, because the ability to work in many parts of the body is affected. Patients with diabetes are also more prone to kidney problems. The lower back and eyes can also suffer a lot from this disease.

Diabetes has become the fifth leading cause of blindness worldwide. One of the main causes of vision loss and blindness is DR, that is, diabetic retinopathy. RD is one of the main causes of vision loss for workers. This disease can have a very bad effect on the economic and social status of people.

It can also be called a stealthy thief who steals the sight: in RD there is no pain in the eyes, no signs are found. Dr Manisha Aggarwal, joint secretary of the Retina Society of India, says patients only have difficulty reading at first. This problem persists even after changing glasses. This means that by the time the symptoms come, a lot of damage has already been done to the eye. However, once the disease is identified, vision loss due to DR can be prevented with appropriate treatment. To check for DR in your eyes, you need to show it to an ophthalmologist. People with diabetes should be tested for DR once a year.

lack of awareness
18% of diabetes patients in India are also victims of DR. This means that one in 5 diabetics suffers from DR. In the Netra Suraksha Season 1 panel discussion, Dr. Dinesh Talwar, Director of Verteoretinal and Uvial Disorders, Center for Sight, New Delhi, said, “At present, people are not aware that they should undergo a DR test regularly. Due to this lack of awareness, it is very difficult to fight DR at the level of society.Remember a conversation with a diabetic patient in your family or friends: have you ever heard the name of diabetic retinopathy from their mouth?

This is a worrying situation. DR particularly harms working people, patients in the 20-70 age group. This means that breadwinners who are already diabetic patients may lose their jobs due to DR. This situation can be very serious. However, one good thing is that vision loss due to DR can be prevented. That is why it is important that the symptoms can be identified in time. At the same time, it is also important to get the right treatment from your doctor on time.

Network18 in association with Novartis has launched ‘Netra Suraksha’ – India’s fight against diabetes. Our effort is to talk about DR to as many people as possible. The aim of this campaign is to increase people’s awareness about DR. For this, they should check their eyes by creating a research field with informative articles. We hope that once diabetics realize this, they will take the DR test seriously for their health and that of their family.

Lack of doctors specializing in DR
However, another difficulty in India is that there are not enough qualified ophthalmologists to treat DR. There are currently about 12,000 ophthalmologists in India (of which about 3,500 are retina specialists). The shortage of retina specialist doctors is acute: there is 1 retina specialist doctor for every 1.26 million people7. If we add this with diabetics, the figure is even more ominous. Adding the number of ophthalmologists in India (12,000) to the diabetics (by 2030 there will be 100 million diabetics in India), this number is scary. This means that there is only 1 ophthalmologist for 8,333 diabetics. Diabetic patients should have their eyes checked once a year. Considering this fact, there is a huge shortage of ophthalmologists in India.

This is a problem that can only be solved at the policy level. This imbalance between demand and supply will deepen in the coming days. However, some good progress has been made in this regard in the direction of artificial intelligence. DR detection can be done easily with these AI-equipped cameras. By promoting the use of this technology, the shortage of eye doctors can be compensated to some extent in the future.

Illness can suddenly put a mountain of expenses on your head
DR is particularly visible in young diabetic patients (especially type 2). Due to the loss of sight, all of a person’s earning capacity ends. Even if he is young. If RD occurs at an early age, it can affect a person’s future plans and retirement plans. The children of these patients may be small, their education and other expenses may be greater. Despite this, their earnings should not be too much. Loss of sight can add to both your problems and your expenses. Expenses can add up in a number of ways, including needing an assistant, rehabilitation, training, and trying to learn a new skill.

The biggest expense is the cost of treatment. Symptoms of eye strain caused by DR cannot be ignored from the onset. After that, the patient may have to do many types of tests, investigations, visits to the doctor. These cost a lot. If you live in a small town or city, this expense can add up even more. The cost of traveling there from the city for treatment is also considerable. In this situation, along with the treatment, medicines and tests, travel expenses, travel expenses, etc. are added.

Insurance can help you with these expenses. However, this requires that no other diabetes-related illness or DR symptoms develop during the insurance waiting period. Most insurances have a waiting period (some are years), which is usually very long for diabetes-related illnesses. Some diabetes related insurance policies do not have this long waiting period. However, there are also some exceptions attached. This means that even if you have insurance for diabetes-related illnesses, it does not cover all expenses related to the illness and treatment. The patient may also have to pay various types of bills out of pocket.

The cost of an insurance policy for diabetics is also high. Medical claims for diseases related to diabetes have increased by 120% between 2016 and 2019. In this too, the age of the patients who claim is between 20 and 30 years old. Obviously, after seeing this trend, insurance prices have also increased.

Prevention is always better than cure
With all these dangers in mind, what should a diabetic patient do to prevent damage to his eyesight? Keep checking your blood sugar level in the early stage and see a doctor to keep it under control. This also means that you have to take care of many levels: blood pressure, serum lipid levels, mineral and vitamin deficiency and above all take care of your diet, exercise daily and avoid weight gain .

Apart from this, one important thing is that you should take out an insurance policy for yourself. Take out insurance that covers diabetes-related treatment. Get full information on what the policy covers and what it doesn’t. Know exactly what the waiting period will be and read all terms and conditions thoroughly. The more you know now, the easier it will be for you to make decisions in times of need.

Third, what you need to do is make an appointment with your eye doctor every year and get the DR checked as per the rules. Symptoms of DR can be detected early in the disease. The sooner the disease is caught, the easier it will be to prevent it from spreading.

Finally, get as much information as possible about DR and update yourself. to start Netra Suraksha The campaign website is a good place. Here you can learn more through discussion boards, videos and informative articles. Fight like a champion to save your sight and join your friends and family in this campaign.


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