Patients suffer from diabetic retinopathy due to poor diabetes management and failure to seek regular eye check-ups.
There were around 54.8mn diabetics in the MENA region in 2019 according to IDF Diabetes Atlas. This condition is present in 12.8 per cent of the MENA population and almost half of the cases remain undetected. Out of these almost 20-25 per cent suffer from some sort of visual impairment due to diabetes. Hence, the need for growing awareness for this health condition in the region.
Dr Raeba Mathew, HoD, Specialist Ophthalmologist, Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai, said, “The main reasons diabetics suffer from visual impairment is poor management of the condition and failure to seek an eye check-up. For diabetic patients an eye check-up is just as important as checking the blood sugar levels; the patients don’t seem to be aware of that.” Diabetic retinopathy is a condition where high blood sugar levels damage the retina, the nerve layer lining the innermost part of the back of the eye.
It can lead to vision impairment by leakage of the fluid into the central part of the retina, causing a gradual loss of central vision. It can also lead to sudden loss of vision due to the bleeding into the cavity of the eyeball, caused by rupture of small new blood vessels that grow in the retina because of diabetes where the patient may notice floating dots or even total loss of vision.
The detection of retinopathy can be done by retinal examinations followed by digital fluorescein angiography and a retinal scan. “Eye check-ups are not the top priority for diabetic patients who end up confusing them for the routine eye check-ups with the optometrist. But in fact, they are entirely different from each other and are covered by most insurance companies,” added Dr Raeba.
“Early diagnosis of the condition is very essential in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. The first retinal examination should be done at initial diagnosis of Diabetes mellitus and thereafter every year. Patients diagnosed with diabetes before the age of 30 years may have a higher chance of developing retinopathy,” added Dr Raeba.
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