About 9 in 10 people have lost some degree of vision during the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts said on Monday.

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 screening. These conditions tend to create severe damage to the eyes if not timely intervention.

“Unfortunately, 90 per cent of patients lost some degree of vision due to poor follow-ups, during the first and the second wave of COVID-19, 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-19, 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 are vital to controlling the disease and preventing vision loss. The longer one visits the clinic, the worse the eye health will get.

“While we should take precautions during this COVID-19 wave, patients should not delay visits for macular degeneration or diabetic macular edema, unless the patient has COVID-19 symptoms,” Dr Raja Narayan, the General Secretary, Vitreoretinal Society of India, told IANS.

“With the third wave, we see 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. One can undertake vision tests 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, people with diabetes must ensure that their sugar levels are under control,” Jayadev said.

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The above article has been published from a wire source with minimal modifications to the headline and text.

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