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FICCI & Vision 20202 sees need to prioritize eye disorders from a perspective of symptoms and early diagnosis

Our Bureau, Bengaluru
Saturday, August 15, 2020, 13:10 Hrs  [IST]

FICCI and Vision 2020 conclave highlights the plight of visually impaired during the COVID-19. In this regard it sees the need to prioritize eye disorders from a perspective of symptoms and early diagnosis.

India is among the world’s highest proportion of blind people, which is around4.8 million. The revised definition of blindness institutionalized in 2019 by the ministry of health and family welfare, is to bring down this 47%. Most cases of blindness at least 92.9% and visual impairment of 96.2% are due to avoidable or preventable causes.

There are four common eye ailments that lead to preventable blindness: cataract, glaucoma, retina diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetes macular edema (DME). If diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion, patient’s vision can be saved.

Experts at the conclave highlighted the challenges and difficulties faced by visually impaired patients, due to COVID-19 and the associated lockdown.

The conclave was attended by Nilambuj Sharan, economic advisor, MoH & FW and joint secretary, National Programme for Control of Blindness & Visual Impairment (NPCB&VI),Dr Sangita Reddy, president FICCI and managing director, Apollo Hospitals, Dr Taraprasad Das, regional chair for South East Asia, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), Dr Phanindra Babu’s Nukella, CEO, Vision 2020 and country chair, IAPB, Dr Raja Narayanan, hon. general secretary, Vitreo Retina Society of India (VRSI) and Sanjay Murdeshwar, managing director, Novartis India.

“While we all are coping up with the new normal, the national lockdown adversely impacted the lives of people with various eye diseases such as cataract, glaucoma and retinal diseases unable to visit doctor for a check-up. With the restricted movements, lack of public transport and further compounded by no permission to conduct outreach camps, we expect more people to be impacted with visual disabilities and severe visual impairment, said Dr Nukella.

Treatment for some eye ailments like retinal diseases require the medicine to be injected in the patient’s eye which could only be done by a medical practitioner. Missing regular treatment dosage increases the risk of deteriorating the vision further. People with poor vision compensate for it through the sense of touch thus exposing them more to the coronavirus disease, said the experts.

According to Das, the fear of infection has made them defer and cancel their scheduled doctor appointments, thereby increasing the risk of further deterioration of vision. Delay in treatment for over three months can increase the risk of deterioration in vision.


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