The fight to control blood sugar is getting younger, as is the fight against diabetic retinopathy and vision loss-Brands News, Firstpost

The International Diabetes Federation’s 2019 Atlas estimated that there were around 77 million cases of diabetes in India’s adult population in 2019. It also projects that number to rise to 101 million in 2030 and 134 million in 2045.

That diabetes is on the rise in India is evident. There was a time when diabetes was so rare that when a loved one was diagnosed with diabetes, it was considered a significant event. Today, it is rare to find a family spared from diabetes.

The International Diabetes Federation’s 2019 Atlas estimated that there were around 77 million cases of diabetes in India’s adult population in 2019. It also projects that number to rise to 101 million in 2030 and 134 million in 2045.1. That’s not all. There is another worrying rising trend: the growing number of young adults and children with diabetes1. Multiple risk factors contribute to this increase in numbers: less active lifestyle, highly processed foods, etc.2.

In children and young adults, however, the risks are not limited to type 2 diabetes alone: ​​there is also type 1 diabetes, which is almost exclusively diagnosed in children and young adults. Globally, an estimated 1,110,100 children and adolescents under the age of 20 have type 1 diabetes. The incidence of type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents is estimated to increase by 3% per year1.

What is type 1 diabetes and how is it different from type 2?

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the pancreas, impairing its ability to produce insulin3. This type of diabetes usually results from genetic factors4. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still makes insulin, but the body develops insulin resistance. The pancreas continues to make more and more insulin, which eventually exhausts the organ. In extreme cases, the pancreas completely stops producing insulin5.

There is a common misconception that type 2 diabetes or adult-onset diabetes only affects older people. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. One in four people under the age of 25 with diabetes (25.3%) in India suffer from type 2 diabetes in adulthood3.

Type 2 diabetes can occur for a variety of factors, such as diet, limited physical activity, or genetic predisposition. Skyrocketing childhood obesity rates are one of the factors responsible for the sudden spike in pediatric type 2 diabetes cases, experts believe.5.

The good news is that young people with type 2 diabetes may not need insulin supplements, especially if caught early. There are a number of lifestyle interventions and medications that can be used to effectively manage diabetes, even when it is early.2. However, the early onset of diabetes means that the diabetes exists in the body for a longer period of time, putting the person at higher risk of developing chronic complications associated with diabetes.6. These can affect multiple organ systems, the lesser known of which is the link between diabetes and vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy (DR).

Diabetes and its effects on the eyes

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye complication of diabetes that affects the retina. High blood sugar can cause blood vessels in the eye to burst, swell, or leak; damage the eye. DR is asymptomatic in the early stages, but as the disease progresses it can lead to reading difficulties, blurred vision, floating spots, and other visual complications. If not taken in time, it can lead to permanent vision lossseven.

It affects people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and, as with many diabetes complications, the risk of developing DR increases over time. When someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it is very rare for them to also be diagnosed with DR. However, over time, the chances of developing DR also increase. Within 20 years, up to 99% of people with type 1 diabetes will have more or less advanced symptoms8.

For those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the situation is different. DR can be present at the time of initial diagnosis and, as with type 1 diabetes, the risks of developing DR increase over time. Within 20 years, about 60% of people with type 2 diabetes show symptoms of DR8.

Diabetic retinopathy and you

The good news is that vision loss from DR can be stopped dead in its tracks IF diagnosed early.9. Once DR is detected, you and your doctor can chart a clear path for you to control your diabetes and prevent further damage to your vision.9. However, the first step is to get an accurate diagnosis.

DR can be diagnosed by your eye doctor, using a DR eye test6. To raise awareness about DR and how easily DR-related vision loss can be prevented, Network18 launched the “Netra Suraksha” – India Against Diabetes initiative, in association with Novartis in 2021. Now in its second year , the initiative focuses on running in-person health camps across the country.

Join us in the fight against DR-related vision loss by arming yourself and your loved ones with information. You can access informative articles, videos and panel discussions between policymakers, doctors and think tanks from season 1, on the Netra Suraksha Initiative website.


  1. IDF Atlas, International Diabetes Federation, 9th Edition, 2019. Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug 2022]
  2. Type 2 diabetes in children. Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug 2022]
  3. One in four young people in India suffer from the more deadly type 2 diabetes. Available at: html [Accessed 3 Aug 2022]
  4. Type 1 diabetes. Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug 2022]
  5. Generational diabetes: why the youngest patients with type 2 diabetes are the sickest. Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug 2022]
  6. Complications of diabetes. Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug 2022]
  7. Diabetic retinopathy is on the rise in young people. Here’s how you can control it! Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug 2022]
  8. Bryl A, Mrugacz M, Falkowski M, Zorena K. The effect of diet and lifestyle on the course of diabetic retinopathy – A review of the literature. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 16;14(6):1252. Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug 2022]
  9. Abràmoff MD, Reinhardt JM, Russell SR, Folk JC, Mahajan VB, Niemeijer M, Quellec G. Automated early detection of diabetic retinopathy. Ophthalmology. 2010 Jun;117(6):1147-54. Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug 2022]

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