By Chong Wee Hou, IECRC

Diabetic retinopathy is a disorder of the retinal blood vessels defined as the presence of typical retinal microvascular signs in an individual with diabetes mellitus. It is one of the most common complications of diabetes mellitus and is the leading cause of poor vision among working adults in developed countries. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness. Diabetics have a 25-fold increased risk of becoming blind compared to non-diabetic individuals because of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetes mellitus is a major public health concern in Singapore. About 1 in 8 Singaporeans suffers from diabetes mellitus and this number is expected to increase with time due to increasing affluence and changes in lifestyle. About 8.5% of the diabetics in Singapore suffer from diabetic retinopathy, with 13.3% of them having sight-threatening retinopathy.

Ms Amanda Ng Zhen Kai, primary eye care optometrist from Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), delivered her lecture titled “War on Diabetes: Roles of a Primary Eye Care Optometrist in SNEC” during the inaugural Singapore Primary Eye Care Symposium (SPECS) held at One Farrer Hotel & Spa on 11-12 September 2017.

Ms Ng spoke on the different stages of diabetic retinopathy and their ocular signs. She also emphasized the importance of regular eye screenings for patients as early diagnosis of the disease leads to better treatment outcomes.

Ms Ng concluded the lecture by sharing the primary eye care programme in SNEC where optometrists screen and co-manage patients with stable eye conditions.