World Diabetes Day 2017 – The Sudden Blindness!

Eye Health

By Dr S.S Gill

In conjunction with WORLD DIABETES DAY on NOVEMBER 14th 2017, Ipoh Echo talks to Consultant Ophthalmologist Dr S. S. GILL on SUDDEN BLINDNESS IN DIABETICS.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that in the year 2030, Malaysia would have a total of 2.48 million people with Diabetes Mellitus (DM). “One in six diabetic Malaysians above 30 years old, are at risk of becoming blind, making it the second biggest cause of curable blindness in the country. It is estimated that approximately 25,000 productive individuals with families to support become blind every year due to diabetic eye disease.”


“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.” Diabetes Mellitus is one of the leading causes of blindness in Malaysia due to a complication affecting the eyes called Diabetic Retinopathy. “The disease is responsible for over 80 per cent of blindness in diabetics. The key is to get your eyes checked regardless of your diabetic control.

“There was a patient in his 30s who used to skip lunch and have a carbonated drink instead. A couple of years later, he developed DM. His doctor started him on diabetic medication and advised him to go for regular eye checks, but he ignored the advice. One morning he woke up to find that he could hardly see in one eye. Like him, many diabetics have ignored the need for regular eye check until they get into trouble.


Diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina) is an eye disease that can cause decreased vision and blindness occurs when vessels at the retina leak. Secondly, the retina becomes ischaemic (lacks oxygen), producing a substance which induces the formation of abnormal weak blood vessels, which start bleeding.


  • BODY WEIGHT: achieve and maintain healthy body weight.
  • EXERCISE: 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control.
  • DIET: eat a healthy diet of between 3 and 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Reduce sugar and saturated fats intake.
  • NO SMOKING: smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • EYE CHECK: Get your eyes checked regularly if you are diabetic!
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