Tamil Nadu

Ophthalmologists see rise in diabetic retinopathy

Doctors say that COVID-19 may spread through tear fluid also.  

Ophthalmologists have started handling children and adults presenting themselves in clinics with common and some hitherto rare conditions. The prolonged lockdown has led to complications such as untreated glaucoma and cataract.

Diabetics who have not checked their glucose levels have to deal with diabetic retinopathy. Cases of myopia have also increased with the constant use of electronic gadgets or long hours spent on computers, doctors said.

“It is known that COVID-19 causes conjunctivitis, otherwise called Madras Eye,” said T.S. Surendran, director of paediatric ophthalmology at Sankara Nethralaya. “Post-lockdown, we did see more incidence of myopia owing to the excessive use of gadgets. In children who are already myopic, there was a jump,” he said.

K. Vasantha, former director of the Government Eye Hospital, said: “By now, most of us know that a block in the blood vessels is the major cause for the organs getting affected in the coronavirus infection. Even after recuperation from the initial infection, other ailments are being reported.

In the eye, blocks in the retinal veins and arteries are being encountered. Both will affect sight, sometimes permanently. I have been asked for a second opinion on a patient who had a melt in the cornea, with secondary infection in both eyes. Organisms have been isolated from the conjunctiva of the patient with the COVID-19 infection. But this is only in 4% or 5% of the people. One should remember that the virus may spread from tear fluid also.”

Mohan Rajan, of Rajan Eye Care Hospital, said some of his patients suffered from occlusion of the retinal blood vessels. “The arteries and veins of the retina are exposed to the same pathological processes, and this affects the ocular circulation as well,” he said.

Some people complained of double vision and drooping of the eye lid post-infection. This occurred owing to the paralysis of the nerves in the eyes, he said.

No regular checks

As people feared getting infected they neglected regular checks, resulting in the worsening of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataract.

Maintaining good eye health during the pandemic is important, Dr. Mohan Rajan said. “If you wear contact lenses, consider switching to glasses. Use protective eyewear to prevent virus-laden aerosols. Wash hands with soap and water before and after touching the face and the eyes. If you experience a sudden vision loss or pain in the eye, contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible,” Dr. Mohan Rajan said.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 11:38:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ophthalmologists-see-rise-in-diabetic-retinopathy/article33097858.ece

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