Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 11, 2007

1.2m face eye diabetic risk

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:45 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: About 1.2 million Malaysians could be suffering from diabetic retinopathy, a common diabetic eye disease that can lead to blindness.
Consultant ophthalmologist Professor Dr Muhaya Mohamad said the majority of diabetic patients were not aware that they had the disease as there were no symptoms until it got worse.
“It’s important for them to go for an annual eye check-up to prevent blindness. Unfortunately, by the time they seek treatment, it’s too late as their condition has become irreversible,” she told the New Straits Times in conjunction with the World Sight Day today.
Dr Muhaya, who is also the chairman of the Ophthalmological Society of the Malaysian Medical Association, said there were 3.2 million diabetic patients in the country and 40 per cent of them could be suffering from diabetic retinopathy, which is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.
“If you are diabetic, your chance of becoming blind is 25 times more compared to non-diabetic patients,” she warned, adding that for some people with diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid.
In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.
The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision.
Dr Muhaya said if a person had diabetic retinopathy, he might not notice the initial changes to his vision but over time, the disease could get worse and cause vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.
To commemorate the World Sight Day, Dr Muhaya said the Ophthalmological Society, together with the Women and Family Development Ministry, Standard Chartered Bank and Eye Fund of MMA Foundation, would embark on a Diabetic Retinopathy Patient Awareness Empowerment (Drape) programme.
Dr Muhaya said the Drape programme would kickstart next month. Leaflets containing information on diabetic retinopathy, its cause and prevention will be distributed to schoolchildren nationwide.

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