Diabetic Retinopathy is on the rise in young people. Here’s how you can control it!

Take the NetraSuraksha Self Check here.

Did you know that people who live in metros and cities in India are more likely to develop diabetes than ever before? 1,110,100 children and adolescents younger than 20 years are estimated to have type 1 diabetes globally.5 Over half the population is at risk of developing diabetes at some point in their lives1. As dystopian as it sounds, it’s true.

Currently 537 million people around the world suffer from diabetes. Of that roughly 74 million cases of diabetes are in India alone and experts predict a steep rise over the next decade2. With the rise of unhealthy eating habits, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, India is set to emerge as the epicenter of the diabetes epidemic.

It is a myth that the disease only occurs in “older” people. Diabetes affects all ages, communities and continents. Type-2 diabetes is striking young Indians and it’s striking them hard. Data from the Indian Council of Medical Research’s youth diabetes registry shows that one in every four (25.3%) people under 25 with diabetes in India has adult-onset type-2 diabetes4. Type 2 Diabetes is supposed to strike only older adults with a family history of diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diets and inactivity 4. This is a disturbing trend.

Diabetes increases your risk for many serious health problems. From kidney disease to lower limb and foot complications, nerve degeneration, bladder problems… it can wreak havoc on many organ systems5, especially the eyes. One of the most prevalent but completely preventable complications is Diabetic Retinopathy 5.

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye related complication seen in people with diabetes. It affects the retina, the part of the eye that processes light into images. High blood glucose levels can cause the blood vessels in the eye to burst, swell, or leak; therefore damaging the eye. Diabetic Retinopathy is asymptomatic in the early stages but as the condition progresses, it can cause difficulty in reading because of blurry vision. If not caught in time, it can lead to permanent vision loss3. This is a type of blindness that is completely avoidable, if one takes the necessary precautions.

Based on an analysis of 35 studies worldwide carried out between 1980 and 2008, the overall prevalence of any Diabeteic Retinopathy in people with diabetes using retinal images was estimated to be 35% with vision-threatening Diabetic Retinopathy present in 12%5. Here’s the kicker, it can also affect people who are prediabetic6!

The good news? With the correct treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications. To that effect, Network 18 has launched the ‘Netra Suraksha’ – India Against Diabetes initiative, in association with Novartis. The initiative aims to increase awareness about Diabetic Retinopathy by holding round table discussions with experts in the medical field, think tanks and policy makers. As a part of the initiative, Network18 will be publishing informative articles and explainer videos too.

It’s time for action. Do your bit by getting yourself and your loved ones tested. Keep diabetes in check, by monitoring and managing your blood glucose levels. Exercise regularly, stay hydrated and manage your carb and sugar intake by choosing foods with lower glycemic index. Diabetes is preventable, and in some cases, when it is caught early, it is even reversible! Give yourself the best shot by investing in the right habits – regular eye screenings, healthy diet, regular exercise and a self care routine to lower stress.

When it comes to Diabetic Retinopathy, prevention is key. So, test your eyes every year – even if you aren’t diabetic! The test is painless and quick. Use the Netra Suraksha initiative’s online Diabetic Retinopathy Self Check Up to help you get started on taking better care of your eyes.

Follow for more updates about the Netra Suraksha initiative, and join the fight against the fastest growing health emergencies of the 21st century: Diabetes.


  1. 10 Dec, 2021.
  2. IDF Atlas, International Diabetes Federation, 10th edition, 2021
  3. 10 Dec, 2021.
  4. 10 Dec, 2021.
  5. IDF Atlas, International Diabetes Federation, 9th edition, 2019
  6. 10 Dec, 2021.

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