World Diabetes Day 2017

Eye Health

By Dr S.S. Gill

In conjunction with WORLD DIABETES DAY on NOVEMBER 14, Ipoh Echo talks to Consultant Ophthalmologist Dr S.S. GILL on effects of diabetes mellitus on the eye.

DIABETIC RETINOPATHY is notorious eye complication of diabetes mellitus that contributes to vision problems including blindness. It is estimated that 1.4 million Malaysian diabetics are walking around unaware that they have diabetic retinopathy that can lead to total blindness. A lot of times this is because of poor awareness of the complications of diabetes mellitus.

Often, those who have diabetes mellitus think that just because they have good blood glucose control and have no blurring vision, they do not need to get their eyes checked. This is not advisable because no blurring vision does not mean he or she has no diabetic eye problems. By the time blurring vision occurs, the eye condition is often serious. The key to this problem is to avoid blurring vision through early detection.

If you have diabetes mellitus, make sure you are screened regularly for this eye complication – a condition where the tiny blood vessels in the retina (inside of eye) are damaged due to diabetes. Almost all people with type 1 diabetes and more than 70% of people with type 2 diabetes will experience some degree of diabetic retinopathy. Take note that no blurring vision does not mean that there is no diabetic eye problems. By the time blurring vision occurs, the eye condition is often serious.


Obviously, patients with fluctuating blood sugar levels (poor control) and those with long-term (duration) diabetes. Essentially, people who have uncontrolled blood glucose levels and those who have had diabetes mellitus for more than five years are especially at risk. Good control of diabetes mellitus is of course important to slowing down the complications of diabetes mellitus in the eye as well as to other organs. The best way to know whether your blood glucose control is good is to measure your blood glucose levels frequently at home with a glucose monitoring machine called a glucometer.

High blood pressure (hypertension) can also contribute to damage of blood vessels in the eye (retina) and enhance the progress of diabetic retinopathy. Research shows that keeping blood pressure as close to normal as possible can help prevent the onset and progression of retinal damage.


“If you have underlying health problems like diabetes and hypertension, do get your eyes examined regularly and comply with prescription medication to prevent vision loss.”

For more information, please call Gill Eye Specialist Centre,  Hospital Fatimah 05-5455582 or email

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