Hazy vision and dizziness? You could be suffering from a retinal disease
By Emily Hagan | Published on Oct 19, 2023
Do you find yourself frequently rubbing your eyes in an attempt to gain a clearer view? Are you experiencing blurry vision, dizziness, or noticing floating spots in your field of vision? If so, you might be suffering from a retinal disease.
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While the importance of general eye health is well-known, it is equally crucial to pay attention to retinal health. There are two common retinal diseases that are both chronic and progressive:
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a condition that primarily affects individuals aged 50 and older. It specifically impacts the macula, which is a part of the retina located at the back of the eye. This disease mainly affects an individual’s central vision, as well as their ability to perceive colors and fine details.
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that affects the retina. In India, an estimated 17.6% to 28.9% of diabetics suffer from diabetic retinopathy. This disease has a significant impact on India’s working population, leading to productivity and economic losses.
The Rising Burden of Retinal Diseases
Dr. Raja Narayanan, Director and Network Head of Clinical Research at L V Prasad Eye Institute, has pointed out the alarming rise in retinal diseases in India. He notes that while DME can be prevented by effectively managing diabetes and controlling sugar levels, wet AMD cannot be completely prevented. Nevertheless, both of these retinal diseases can be prolonged and managed with the right treatment adherence. Out of the approximately 70 million diabetes patients in India, 10% to 20% of them go on to develop diabetic retinopathy. This primarily affects the working-age population, resulting in productivity and economic losses.
Also, read: Yoga for eyes: 5 asanas you need to master to improve your vision
Early Signs and Symptoms of Retinal Disease
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of retinal diseases like DME and wet AMD is crucial for early intervention and timely care. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Blurred, fuzzy, or distorted vision
- Impaired color vision
- Decreased contrast or color sensitivity
- Dark spots in vision
- Straight lines appearing wavy or crooked
- Difficulty seeing objects at a distance
It’s important to note that in the early stages, especially with DME, symptoms may not be easily recognizable. Therefore, it’s crucial to remain vigilant for any warning signs and to undergo regular eye screenings, particularly for diabetics.
The Importance of Timely Diagnosis
Since both AMD and DME are progressive diseases, early diagnosis is of utmost importance. Delayed diagnosis can lead to worsening conditions and further complications, including preventable but irreversible blindness.
The Impact of the Pandemic
Unfortunately, the pandemic has resulted in delays in screenings and routine retina care, according to Dr. Ajay Dudani, CEO Vitreoretinal Surgeon at Mumbai Retina Center. This has compounded the problem, as patients are often seeking treatment at more advanced stages of the disease. Additionally, the shift to work-from-home has led to sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diet choices, and increased stress levels, which further contribute to health issues. Efforts are now focused on raising awareness and implementing technology solutions to simplify the screening process.
Holistic Treatment and Adherence
There are various treatment options available for AMD and DME, including anti-VEGF injections, laser treatments, surgery, or a combination of therapies. Adopting lifestyle modifications, such as engaging in regular physical activity and quitting smoking, can also contribute to a healthier daily routine. For DME patients, managing and monitoring diabetes is a critical component of limiting the progression of the disease. Treatment compliance and adherence are necessary for achieving positive therapy outcomes. Given the progressive nature of these retinal diseases, strict adherence to treatment, regular follow-ups, and lifestyle changes are crucial. Additionally, it’s important to learn how to cope with these diseases, especially during the early stages of diagnosis, as they can be worrisome.
Both AMD and DME can have an impact on overall mental health. Therefore, it is essential to address these effects alongside the treatment of the diseases. By seeking help and resources to better understand the conditions and how to manage them, staying engaged with the world, and seeking support from family, friends, and others in the patient community, an individual’s quality of life can be improved, preventing further complications.
Early detection is paramount when it comes to retinal diseases. By seeking effective treatment early on, individuals can explore the best options for their condition, rather than presenting with advanced stages of the diseases. This allows for more options in prevention and delaying disease progression.