The most serious eye condition is diabetic retinopathy. It occurs when the high blood glucose in diabetes damages the small blood vessels of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision. About 22% of diabetics in Singapore are affected by diabetic retinopathy, making it the most common type of visual impairment in the country. This condition is generally painless condition with no obvious symptoms in its early stage. However, sudden loss of vision may occur when the condition worsens. For this reason, most of these cases go undetected until its very advanced stage, where the structural damage is no longer reversible.
Diabetic patients develop cataract (clouding of the natural crystalline lens in the eye) at earlier age compared to those without diabetes.
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People with diabetes are 40% more likely to suffer from glaucoma (a condition where the nerves in the eye are damaged due to increase in high pressure) than people without diabetes. The longer someone has had diabetes, the more common glaucoma is. Moreover, glaucoma is also termed as the ‘silent thief of sight’, as there may be no symptoms at all until the disease is very advanced and leads significant vision loss.
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Regular eye screening is therefore the key to early detection of diabetic eye diseases, a term that is used to describe the group of eye diseases associated with diabetes, hence reduce the risk vision loss and preserve good vision.
Normal clear vision versus vision disturbance in severe diabetic retinopathy