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One in 7 diabetics is visually impaired: Survey

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 10, 2019 Published on October 10, 2019

A majority of the diabetics had never sought an eye check-up.   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

One in eight persons above 50 years in India is a diabetic; One in every 46 diabetics is blind; and one in seven has some form of impairment in their vision due to high blood sugar levels, according to a diabetes and diabetic retinopathy survey by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare carried out between 2015 to 2019.

Of 56,771 persons over 50 years of age assessed in 21 districts, up to 11.8 per cent (6,717) were found to be diabetic. The highest prevalence of diabetes (over 20 per cent) was observed in Thrissur, Kerala (29.4 per cent), North Goa (24.7 per cent), Kapurthala in Punjab (22 per cent) and Virudhunagar in Tamilnadu (21.2 per cent).

Of the total diabetic population of 6,717 persons, 144 persons were blind and 923 persons were visually impaired. “Prevalence of blindness among diabetics was 2.1 per cent and visual impairment 13.7 per cent,” states the report.

In all the diabetics, 16.9 per cent had diabetic retinopathy or damage to retina, 7 per cent had diabetic maculopathy or damage to macula, a part of the eye which provides central vision, and 3.6 per cent had sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy, the report estimated. Globally, diabetic retinopathy is responsible for 1.06 per cent of blindness and 1.16 per cent of visual impairment, according to 2015 estimates.

The reason for diabetes leading to blindness and visual impairment was linked to poor blood sugar control among patients. While most of patients surveyed (85.7 per cent) were on oral tablets for diabetic management, only 39.5 per cent of known diabetics had controlled their random blood glucose to less than 200 mg per dL.

Poor awareness

Up to 60.5 per cent had poor control of sugar. And a majority of the diabetics had never sought an eye check-up. “Poor awareness regarding the health, 90 per cent of known diabetics had never gone for fundus evaluation for diabetic retinopathy,” states the report.

In India, there are an estimated 7.296 crore cases of diabetes in adults. While urban prevalence is between 10.9 to 14.2 per cent, rural prevalence is between 3 to 7.8 per cent among population which is over 20 years and there is much higher prevalence in population over 50 years.

Published on October 10, 2019
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