Nepal | June 03, 2020

World Diabetes Day: Eyes in focus

Eli Pradhan
Share Now:

An early detection and treatment of retinopathy can prevent most cases of
severe vision loss and blindness in people. Unfortunately poor and lower middle class people end up with the problems than the rich who can afford regular care

eye-examination, eye test,

Diabetes is fast becoming one of the most challenging and major public health problems worldwide.

Unfortunately, very few are aware of complications created in the eyes. It is presumed that this disease would affect a total of 4.4% by the end of 2030. Moreover, 183 million people (50%) are undiagnosed and 4.6 million deaths were caused by diabetes in 2011.

It is the fifth leading cause of death in most high-income countries and there is substantial evidence that it is epidemic in many economically developing and newly industrialized countries.

In Nepal, one out of three people aged 40 years or more are found to be suffering from pre-diabetes, a silent killer disease.

In a survey in Kathmandu, one out of four people aged 60 years (25.99%) were found to be suffering from the disease. Reports till date show that there are 900,000 diabetic people in Nepal.

Diabetes patients are found more in urban areas than in the rural and two-thirds of the diabetes patients are diagnosed during health camps, while the life expectancy of people suffering from diabetes is 13 years less than the normal life expectancy rate of the country.

Diabetes affects different parts of the body leading to complications including heart disease, stroke, loss of limbs, kidney problems, and in pregnancy causing fatality.

This disease can gradually disturb people’s vision, finally resulting in blindness due to diabetic retinopathy. It is one of the leading causes of visual impairment and blindness in our country.

It is indeed an emerging public health issue as patients usually come for treatment very late with no possibilities of good visual recovery.

Prevalence of diabetic retinopathy (DR) among the diabetics varies from 18 to 43%. In a hospital-based study in Tilganga, prevalence of DR was 44.7% with 33.7% in sight threatening stage of retinopathy needing urgent treatment.

Among the new diabetic patients attending the vitreo-retina service, almost half of the subjects never had a retina evaluation prior to their initial visit to Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.

Awareness of diabetic retinopathy was poor among them while only one third knew about the possible effects on the eye.

It was found that 4.8% of the total blindness is due to the complication of diabetes in the eye. They are more prone to infection as high blood sugar level makes them less resistant.

Diabetics have dryness and gritty feeling in their eyes. It is advised not to rush to buy a new pair of glasses till the blood sugar level is stabilized. People with diabetes can get cataract (clouding of lens) earlier which progresses more rapidly than those without diabetes.

However, cloudy lens can be successfully removed and replaced by a man made lens implant. Glaucoma is an eye condition with high eye pressure, which robs our vision slowly and the patient is usually unaware of any symptoms.

Therefore, the damage is found only during the eye examinations in diabetic population.

Another very important complication is Diabetic Retinopathy, which is the fifth commonest cause of blindness in the world. The longer the duration of diabetes, the greater the risk of this serious eye problem.

If retinopathy is not found early or is not treated, it can lead to blindness. Early-stage retinopathy may not need to be treated, but more advanced retinopathy with bleeding inside the eye may require laser treatment or injections of medicine into the eye.

One should have his or her eyes examined every year by an ophthalmologist so the condition can be closely monitored.

If the damage is not profound, it can be treated with laser called photocoagulation. It uses the heat from a laser to seal abnormal, leaking blood vessels in the retina.

If it is performed in an appropriate and timely manner, laser treatment may reduce the risk of future vision loss.

Educating each individual about diabetes and its preventive measures is very important to lessen the financial burden on the family, on society hence the country.

World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated every year on November 14 to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea, which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922.

The day engages millions of people worldwide in diabetes advocacy and awareness. Each year World Diabetes Day is centered on a theme related to diabetes.

Topics covered in the past have included diabetes and human rights, diabetes and lifestyle, and the costs of diabetes. Recent themes include “Healthy living and diabetes” with the main slogan on ‘Eyes on diabetes’ this year.

Many complications can be picked up in the early stage through screening so that treatment can be given to prevent them becoming more serious.

‘Give my sight to a man who has never seen a sunrise, baby’s face or a love in the eyes of a woman’, is a part of a poem by Robert N Test.

Today, on World Diabetes Day, we should all say that let’s try to help people who have lost their sight from diabetes and let them be able to see again everything that they missed.

Finally, an early detection and treatment of retinopathy can prevent most cases of severe vision loss and blindness in people.

Once considered as a rich man’s disease, unfortunately poor and lower middle class population are more likely to end up with problems than the rich who can afford regular care.

Dr Pradhan is MD, MRCSEd (UK) and Medical Retina consultant

A version of this article appears in print on November 14, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Egypt's ex-PM faces torture allegation in American's lawsuit

CAIRO: After his arrest in 2013 for documenting the deadliest crackdown on protesters in Egypt’s modern history, Mohamed Soltan landed in a notorious prison where he says he was brutally tortured for 21 months. He never thought he'd get a chance to fight back, let alone make it out alive. Read More...

Tropical storm kills 17 in El Salvador and Guatemala

SAN SALVADOR: Rains from Tropical Storm Amanda left at least 17 dead and seven missing while causing extensive damage across El Salvador and Guatemala that pushed thousands of people into shelters amid the coronavirus pandemic. EL Salvador Interior Minister Mario Durán said Monday some 7,000 peo Read More...

FAs demand action

KATHMANDU: Four district Football Associations on Monday requested Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to intervene at the All Nepal Football Association’s activities to save football. The presidents of four FAs — Birat Jung Shahi (Kathmandu), Purushottam Thapa (Lalitpur), Gautam Sujakhu (Bhaktapur) Read More...

Embassy urges Nepalis who want to return home to update personal details

LONDON: The Embassy of Nepal here has urged Nepali citizens who have been compelled to return to Nepal to update their information details. In a notice on Monday, the Embassy stated that this provision has been made for the Nepali citizens who are in a compelling situation to return to Nepal. Read More...

SpaceX captures the flag, beating Boeing in cosmic contest

CAPE CANAVERAL: The first astronauts launched by SpaceX declared victory Monday in NASA’s cosmic capture-the-flag game. They quickly claimed the prize left behind at the International Space Station nearly a decade ago by the last crew to launch from the US. “Congratulations, SpaceX, you go Read More...

Is pedestrian and cycle-friendly mobility possible post-lockdown? 

Kathmandu   Cycling to his place of work, Dr Paban Sharma, Professor at Patan Academy of Health Sciences, has had to face the brunt of the police officials on more than one occasion. Ever since the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 24, Sharma’s preferred means of commute has been h Read More...

Nepal’s all-time top scorer Sabitra Bhandari 'Samba' features in

KATHMANDU: The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international governing body of football, has written a feature on Nepal’s all-time scorer Sabitra Bhandari 'Samba' on its website. has shared an account of how the 23-year-old Nepali footballer has real Read More...

Vatican Museums

Virtual no more - real Michelangelo awes again in Vatican Museums

VATICAN CITY: If you've ever dreamed of being in the Sistine Chapel without feeling like you are craning your neck in a packed open-top tourist bus, now is your chance. The Vatican Museums re-opened to the public on Monday after being closed for nearly three months because of the coronavirus lock Read More...