Eye Health: World Diabetes Day 2019

In conjunction with WORLD DIABETES DAY on NOVEMBER 14th 2019, a Consultant Ophthalmologist Dr S.S. GILL gives us an overview of diabetes mellitus.

MALAYSIA has an alarming increase in the number of diabetics by the day. In fact, MALAYSIA has the HIGHEST rate of diabetes mellitus in the world with some 3.6 million suffering from it. The National Health and Morbidity Survey reveals one in five Malaysian adults have diabetes. This chronic disease is ranked number five in the top ten causes of death in Malaysia. The theme for diabetes awareness month and World Diabetes Day 2019 is Family and Diabetes with families being urged are urged to learn more about the warning signs of diabetes.

DIABETIC RETINOPATHY is a notorious EYE COMPLICATION of diabetes 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 the 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 are 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 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.


“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.”

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