In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook our health amidst juggling work, family, and personal commitments. Nevertheless, when it comes to managing diabetes, neglecting regular eye screenings can have serious consequences. As the saying goes, “The eyes are the windows to the soul,” but for individuals with diabetes, they are also the windows to their overall health.
Diabetes was the 9th leading cause of death worldwide in 2019. About 538 million adults live with the disease, which is projected to increase to 643 million by 2030 and a staggering 783 million by 2045. In Singapore, the number of adults living with diabetes increased from 8.3 percent in 2010 to 8.6 percent in 2017. Further, the number is projected to increase to 13.7 percent by 2030.
Diabetic eye screening is not just another medical appointment but an essential safeguard against potentially life-altering complications. This blog will delve into five compelling reasons why regular diabetic eye screening should be a non-negotiable part of every diabetic’s health regimen. So, let’s sharpen our vision and explore how seeing a diabetic eye doctor can protect more than just our eyesight.
Book a consultation with Dr Jimmy Lim today to learn more about Diabetic Eye Screening.
1. Early Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is a severe eye condition that affects individuals with diabetes. It is caused by damage to the retina’s blood vessels, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye responsible for converting light into nerve signals sent to the brain, allowing us to see.
When a person has diabetes, their blood sugar levels can elevate, damaging the blood vessels throughout the body. The tiny blood vessels in the retina are particularly vulnerable to this damage. Diabetic retinopathy typically develops over time and tends to be more common in individuals who have had diabetes for a long time or have poorly controlled blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy
- Blurred vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Dark or empty areas in the vision
- Impaired colour vision
- Vision loss
Regular eye screening can identify signs of retinopathy before significant symptoms occur, allowing timely intervention to prevent or slow its progression.
Read: 10 Eye Care Tips You Want to Know
2. Prevention of Vision Loss
Diabetes can cause various conditions that may affect vision. For instance, macular oedema is a common complication of diabetic retinopathy, where fluid accumulates in the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp, detailed vision. If left untreated, macular oedema can lead to significant vision impairment and central vision loss.
In addition, proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is an advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy characterised by the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina. These new vessels are weak and prone to bleeding, which can cause sudden and severe vision loss.
Hence, the timely detection and management of diabetic eye complications can significantly reduce the risk of vision loss. By promptly addressing these complications such as macular oedema or proliferative retinopathy, healthcare professionals can implement appropriate treatments to preserve vision and prevent permanent damage, providing optimal visual outcomes and improved quality of life for individuals with diabetes.
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3. Customised Treatment Plans
Regular eye exams enable eye care professionals to create personalised treatment plans for diabetic patients based on their specific eye health needs. Early intervention options, such as laser treatment or intravitreal injections, can be more effective when applied promptly, maximising their potential benefits.
Everyone’s eye health and diabetic retinopathy progression can vary, making personalised treatment approaches crucial. Here’s why customising treatment plans is essential:
Tailored to specific needs
Customised treatment plans consider the unique characteristics of a person’s diabetic eye complications. Factors such as the stage of diabetic retinopathy, macular oedema, the extent of blood vessel damage, and the eye’s overall health are considered. By tailoring the treatment to the individual’s needs, eye care professionals can optimise the chances of preserving vision and preventing further vision loss.
Addressing concurrent health conditions
Many individuals with diabetes may have other health conditions or ocular issues that could influence their treatment options and outcomes. Customised treatment plans consider these concurrent health conditions and ensure that the selected treatments are safe and compatible with other medical treatments the patient might be receiving.
Integrating multiple treatments
In some cases, diabetic retinopathy may require a combination of treatments to achieve positive results. A customised treatment plan may involve a mix of interventions, such as laser photocoagulation, anti-VEGF injections, and vitrectomy (a surgical procedure to remove the vitreous gel from the eye). The integration of various treatments is carefully tailored to address the specific complexities of each patient’s diabetic eye complications.
Adapting to individual responses
Different individuals may respond differently to the same treatment. A customised treatment plan allows eye care professionals to monitor the patient’s response to the chosen interventions closely. Adjustments can be made to the treatment plan based on how the individual’s eyes respond to therapy.
Enhancing treatment compliance
Personalised treatment plans consider the patient’s lifestyle, preferences, and ability to comply with the treatment regimen. By considering these factors, healthcare providers can design a plan that is more likely to be adhered to by the patient, resulting in favourable treatment outcomes.
4. Monitoring Diabetes Management
Diabetic eye screenings can also serve as an indicator of overall diabetes management. Changes in the eyes, such as worsening retinopathy, can signal that a person’s diabetes may not be adequately controlled.
Monitoring diabetes management through regular eye screenings is a powerful tool in preventing vision loss and promoting overall health for individuals with diabetes. It aids in the early detection of poor diabetes control, encourages self-care practices, facilitates coordinated care between specialists, and motivates patients to take their diabetes management seriously. By addressing diabetes comprehensively, individuals can reduce their risk of diabetic eye complications and other health issues associated with diabetes.
5. Better Quality of Life
Regular diabetic eye screenings and the effective management of diabetic eye complications profoundly impact the quality of life for individuals with diabetes. By preserving vision, improving overall health, reducing anxiety, and enhancing safety and independence, individuals can lead fulfilling and productive lives while managing their diabetes effectively. Regular eye screenings are essential to a comprehensive diabetes care plan, providing numerous benefits for the individual’s overall well-being and quality of life.
Read: Is There a Cure for Childhood Myopia?
The Key Point To Remember
Ultimately, regular diabetic eye exams and effective management of diabetic eye complications lead to a better quality of life for individuals with diabetes. Preserving vision, reducing anxiety and stress, enhancing safety and independence, and improving social and emotional well-being all contribute to a more fulfilling and productive life.
Emphasising the importance of regular eye screenings and comprehensive diabetes management empowers individuals to safeguard their eye health actively. By working closely with healthcare providers and eye care professionals, individuals can proactively manage their diabetes and protect their vision, leading to a brighter and healthier future.
At JL Eye Specialists, we believe that an informed patient is better equipped to manage their condition. If you are experiencing any type of eye discomfort or changes in your vision, please don’t hesitate to book a consultation with our medical director, Dr Jimmy Lim.