Diabetes-related vision loss growing worldwide

Diabetes-related vision loss growing worldwide

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD

Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the retina that damages sight as a result of chronic high blood sugar in diabetes. The high sugar damages the delicate blood vessels in the retina - the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye.

As the damage increases, the blood vessels begin to leak and distort vision. In people with advanced diabetic retinopathy, new, abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina, causing further damage and eventually permanent scarring and vision loss or blindness.

The worldwide burden of diabetes-related vision loss is growing alarmingly. Over 2 decades from 1990-2010, the number of people worldwide with diabetes-related blindness or visual impairment rose by an alarming 27 percent and 64 percent, respectively. In 2010, 1 in every 52 people had vision loss and 1 in every 39 people were blind due to diabetic retinopathy - where the retina is damaged by diabetes.

These figures are the result of an analysis by a global consortium, who recently published their work online in the journal Diabetes Care.

As the number of people living with diabetes worldwide grows, so does the chance that more people will develop diabetic retinopathyand suffer subsequent vision loss, especially if they do not receive or adhere to the care they need.

Lead author Janet Leasher, associate professor of the College of Optometry at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL, says:

"Unfortunately diabetic retinopathy usually does not have any symptoms in the early stages."

Thus, it is important that people with diabetes have their eyes tested every year, follow the advice of their eye health practitioner, and make sure they keep their blood sugar under control.

The researchers extracted and pooled data on diabetic retinopathy to produce estimates of global regional trends on the condition as a cause of moderate and severe vision impairment and blindness.

They found that over the period 1990-2010, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa, and West Sub-Saharan Africa, were the regions with the highest number of people with visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy, while East Asia, Tropical Latin America, and South Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest number of people rendered blind by the condition.

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4 Replies

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  • Dear ragivrao ji,,

    Some years ago I had thought that :

    A retinal surgeon is unnecessary for this check up,

    Since any one can be trained to do this

    If a photo of the previous retinal state is kept preserved. Then a trained technician can compare.

    In fact a lot of medical practice

    Can be handled by non doctors.

    Like a diabetes educationist.

    Good luck

  • @ Indiacratus

    I appreciate your views as to rectification of the problem of vision loss due to diabetes when it develops.

    If the problem is leakage of peripheral blood vassals, any trained doctor can detect it by fundoscophy and probably he can seal it by laser. if he has the proper equipment and not necessarily by a retinal surgeon..

    I visualize that it is too difficult to put confidence in handling the eye problem by any one as our eyes are too precious a gift given by God the Almighty to be entrusted to any person unless one is sure of his experience and reputation..

    As the article highlights, Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the retina that damages sight as a result of chronic high blood sugar in diabetes. The high sugar damages the delicate blood vessels in the retina - the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye. In most cases there is a blood clot on the retina and in extreme cases there is retinal detachment which requires a retinal surgeon,

    As the damage increases, the blood vessels begin to leak and distort vision. In people with advanced diabetic retinopathy, new, abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina, causing further damage and eventually permanent scarring and vision loss or blindness.

    As per the article the worldwide burden of diabetes-related vision loss is growing alarmingly. Over 2 decades from 1990-2010, the number of people worldwide with diabetes-related blindness or visual impairment rose by an alarming 27 percent and 64 percent, respectively. In 2010, 1 in every 52 people had vision loss and 1 in every 39 people were blind due to diabetic retinopathy - where the retina is damaged by diabetes.

    That is why it is necessary to check eyes annually along with other tests for heart, kidney.etc., and one should get the abnormality attended before it is too late. particularly as unfortunately diabetic retinopathy usually does not have any symptoms in the early stages,

  • Dear raoji,

    I am not visualising

    .. Just any one can rectify retinopathy.

    What I suggested is the annual finding out:

    if there is any changes developing comparative to a previous check up or- a healthy retina.-

    This can be done by a trained technician

    And there are thousands of circumstances in medicine where some non doctor specialist can help.

    See for instance :

    A difference at the beginning of the optic nerve tells of glaucoma.

    Now anyone with training, , with an ophthalmoscope, can detect it.

    Repeat :

    I am talking of annual check up and NOT about initial diagnosis.

    The vast majority of people do not get any check up at all. Better than nothing.

    Good luck

  • Though I had not reached that stage, I was experiencing blurred vision and halo around bright lights early in the morning by January this year. Once I started the Vegan diet these symptoms started to improve and now, have completely disappeared. Yesterday, I had gone to one of the top doctors of Hinduja Hospital due to redness in the eyes, he declared all OK after doing all the tests (redness was due to some foreign particle getting into the eye). The only change was in the (-) power of the eye which has gone down from -2.5 to -2.25 (have to change the glasses). This Vegan diet has been a boon for me. If people follow proper diet, the BS would definitely be controlled and so would be the complications!!

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