World Health Day 2016

Eye Health

By Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about World Health Day 2016.

The World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated World Health Day (WHD) on April 7 and for the first time since 1950, has chosen ‘Beat Diabetes’ as its theme. This is because Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is now one of the largest global health emergencies of the 21st century with ever growing numbers of people suffering diabetic complications of blindness, heart diseases, stroke, amputations and kidney failure. WHO has estimated that by 2030, Malaysia would have a total of 2.48 million people with Diabetes Mellitus (DM). “One in six Malaysians with Diabetes above 30 years old, are at a high risk of becoming blind due to Diabetic Retinopathy”.


A diabetic patient runs a risk of suddenly going blind especially if they have uncontrolled diabetes and if they have never had their eyes checked. “There was a diabetic patient in his 30s who did not follow his physician’s advice to have an eye check-up because he had the impression that he did not need to, since he had good diabetic control. One morning, he woke up to find that he could hardly see in one eye. Unfortunately, like him there are many diabetic patients who are oblivious to such vision complications and have chosen to ignore the need for regular eye checks until they get into trouble.”


Many diabetics think that just because their diabetes is well controlled, they do not need to worry about their eyes. This unfortunately not the case. The DURATION of diabetes along with concomitant diseases like hypertension, puts every diabetic patient at risk of diabetic eye disease and blindness. This means that the longer you have suffered from diabetes, the more the risk of diabetic eye complications. Every diabetic should be made aware that they need a regular eye screening before they have symptoms of blurring vision. Commonly, by the time there is blurring vision, the diabetic eye disease is often at a late complicated stage.


Diabetic retinopathy affects the eyes when vessels at the retina (nerve) leak and it becomes ischaemic (lacking oxygen supply). When the retina lacks oxygen, it produces a substance which induces the formation of abnormal weak blood vessels, which start bleeding causing loss of vision.


  • BODY WEIGHT: Maintain healthy body weight. Malaysians have one of the highest rates of obesity in the world!
  • EXERCISE: At least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control if you are obese.
  • DIET: Eat a healthy diet of between three and five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Reduce sugar and saturated fat intake.
  • NO SMOKING: smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

…..and of course, the EYE CHECK: Get the eyes checked regularly if you are diabetic!

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