Wednesday, March 20

Diabetes may lead to blindness — SunMed

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KUCHING: Most diabetes patients and families are not aware that diabetes can cause eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy.

The disease, if not treated, can cause serious vision impairment, leading to irreversible blindness.

Sunway Medical Centre (SunMed) made this remark recently through a press statement in Kuala Lumpur when announcing their holding of World Diabetes Day through its ‘Let’s Take 5’ campaign, which was launched last year.

SunMed said: “Losing the eyesight can be very daunting and requires many lifestyle adjustments for patients and their families.”

Its CEO Tan Suet Guan was quoted as saying that most people associate complications such as gangrene leading to amputations as the consequence of diabetes. But diabetes can also cause blindness, kidney failure and heart disease.

She said that approximately 3.6 million Malaysians are diabetic, a figure that has surpassed the World Health Organisation’s estimation of 807,000 diabetics by 2025.

“We should not forget that the longer a person suffers from diabetes, the higher the risk of them losing their vision. As diabetics are diagnosed at younger and younger ages, we will see more and more people who are at risk of losing their vision at the most productive time of their lives. It is a devastating experience for a forty or fifty-year-old person to become irreversibly blind. Their lives and careers will be affected,” Tan said.

SunMed introduced the ‘Let’s Take 5’ campaign last year. It aims to educate the public on different diabetes-related complications from top to toe, starting with stroke right up to diabetic foot complications. The five-year-long campaign aims to highlight different complications related to diabetes.

This year, SunMed is embarking on the campaign with the theme ‘See Diabetes’.  Last year, the campaign focused on the stroke complications related to diabetes through the theme ‘Think Diabetes’. World Diabetes Day (WDD) falls in November.

SunMed’s Dietetics and Nutrition department manager stressed on the importance of losing weight.

“Losing weight is a tremendous challenge for many people and often requires the support of friends and family. Employers too play an important role. We hope that companies can take the step to support their employees by implementing this programme in the workplace. Healthier employees will lead to better productivity and happier staff,” said Lau.

SunMed will be holding a workshop in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 17 on eye disease related to diabetes and this will benefit general practitioners and healthcare professionals. The workshop will equip them with the latest medical information on diabetes and also provide them with hands-on skills to diagnose and assist diabetics in a primary care setting.

It will also provide free health screening during its roadshows. The roadshows began in August and will continue right up to November, culminating in a mega roadshow at Sunway Pyramid Mall in Subang Jaya on Nov 1 to 3. The mega roadshow will be supported by the Malaysian Dietetics Association and Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology.