Diabetic retinopathy, a potentially blinding complication of diabetes that damages the retina, creeps up without symptoms in 2-5% diabetics. By the time symptoms -black spots floating before eyes, blurred vision or severe pain in the eyes - pear, 80% of the retina has been already damaged.
Deepak Bhatt, 37, a Delhi-based businessman, learnt this the hard way. A diabetic who was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 16, Bhatt did not go to an ophthalmologist till two years ago when black spots appeared before of his eyes and his vision blurred suddenly.
"I was diagnosed with proliferative retinopathy, the severe form of the disease, where retinal nerves start bleeding," he said. Dr JS Titiyal, professor at the Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, says, "The disease is easy to diagnose, I can diagnose it by looking at the eyes of a person. People come for treatment with vision loss because of lack of awareness. We need to upgrade health infrastructure in rural areas so that the disease is diagnosed early."