About 9 in 10 people have lost some degree of vision during the last two years of Covid pandemic, health experts said on Monday.
It is because most of them skipped their regular eye check-ups and follow-ups due to pandemic-induced lockdowns, fear among others.
Retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration have few or minor symptoms at first and are only detected by eye examination or a screening.
These conditions have the tendency to create severe damage to the eyes if not timely intervened with.
"Unfortunately, 90 per cent of patients lost some degree of vision due poor follow ups, during the first and the second wave of Covid, especially the ones suffering from wet AMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration). These patients mostly missed taking their Intravitreal injection, owing to which the diseases progressed rapidly," Dr Ajay Dudani, CEO Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Mumbai Retina Centre, told IANS.
"Owing to the fear of Covid, we have witnessed a decline in patients coming for a regular eye check-up in the past 3-4 months. This has resulted in delays in diagnosis and treatment, which can compromise vision in the long run," added Dr Chaitra Jayadev, Senior Vitreo-retinal Consultant, Narayana Nethralaya Eye Institute, Bengaluru.
Doctors said that early detection and treatment is key to control the disease and prevent any loss in vision.
The longer one puts off visiting the clinic, the worse the eye health will get.
"While we should take precautions during this Covid wave, patients should not delay visits for macular degeneration or diabetic macular edema, unless the patient has Covid symptoms," Dr Raja Narayan, the General Secretary, Vitreoretinal Society of India, told IANS.
"With the third wave, we are seeing a similar pattern from the past, as patient visits, especially amongst elders, have dropped by nearly 50 per cent. Since the retina cannot be replaced, missing an injection, or treatment follow ups, can magnify the eye disease," Dudani said.
Doctors also encouraged patients to take up teleconsultations.
There are vision tests that one can undertake sitting at home, whose reports can be sent to the doctor for examination and further intervention.
"If patients experience symptoms such as blurred vision, sudden loss of vision or black spots in the visual field, they need to go for an immediate eye check-up, as these could be signs of diabetic retinopathy. To prevent worsening of such complications, diabetics must ensure that their sugar levels are under control," Jayadev said.