If you notice distortion or a blur patch in your central vision, you could have Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). It is the leading cause of central vision loss in people over the age of 50 in developed countries, including Singapore. With an average life expectancy of close to 80 years in the country, more than 1 in 5 elderly Singaporeans can expect to develop AMD. Recent studies have also shown that 7% of Singaporean adults who are 40 years and older have AMD.
About 1 in 10 Singaporeans are diabetics. As the risk of developing diabetes increases with age, the prevalence of diabetes in Singapore expected to rise further along with the increased life expectancy in the country. Diabetes can affect the eye in many ways:
There are 3 types of diabetic retinopathy:
All individuals with diabetes are at risk. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely it is for you to develop diabetic retinopathy. Studies have shown that 60% of diabetics on tablets and 100% of diabetics on injection have some form of diabetic eye disease over time. Diabetic retinopathy may be a problem for women with diabetes during pregnancy. Pregnant woman with diabetes should have a comprehensive eye examination even before family planning.
Diabetic retinopathy is treated with laser treatment that can be performed in the clinic with no hospitalization stay. Focal laser is usually done in non-proliferative cases to slow down the leakage of fluid and reduce the amount of fluid in the retina while scatter laser shrinks the abnormal blood vessels in proliferative cases. Multiple sessions may be required to complete the treatment. This treatment has been shown to reduce risk of severe vision loss by 50%. In addition, patients with proliferative retinopathy have less than 5% chance of losing their vision within the next 5 years if they receive timely and appropriate treatment.
Surgery is only needed if there is a retinal detachment or if bleeding does not resolve spontaneously.
These little objects that float about in your field in vision are called ‘floaters’. They move with your eye and are most noticeable when you are looking at a blue sky or a white background like a wall or piece of paper.
Sudden onset or increase in the number of floaters, flashes and appearance of a curtain over the field of vision may be the warning signs of a retinal problem such as retinal tear or detachment. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency. Anyone experiencing its symptoms should see an eye doctor immediately.