Diabetic Retinopathy Screening – Saving your eyesight before it is too late!

Diabetic retinopathy is a common preventable complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness or very poor vision. It is usually best observed and treated in its very early stages when the patient might not be feeling anything. The very early stages of the disease are usually observed and are reversible with good blood sugar level control. Once the disease progresses to a certain stage, eye doctors usually recommend laser procedures. These are painless outpatient based procedures that involve examination and application of laser through a special lens.  The later stages of the disease can be attributed to very poor vision, recurrent internal eye bleeds, retinal detachment and glaucoma which may require surgical interventions.  However, at these stages, one might still not expect to restore his/her eyesight to normality.

Why is it so important?

Since diabetic eye disease can be picked up and treated before the patient is aware of it, a screening service exists to detect such cases and prevent sight loss. Screening is performed in health centres and makes use of dilating eye drops to enlarge the pupil to allow a special camera to take pictures of the retina, the back of the eye. Any detected diabetic eye problem is referred to Mater Dei’s eye specialists’ attention for the adequate treatment.

How can I get screened?

The screening service is available at Mosta and Floriana Health Centres and diabetic patients are invited to attend for a yearly appointment check which can be organised by the family doctor.

This was a Guest Post by Dr David Agius, Specialist Trainee in Ophthalmology working at the Department of Ophthalmology, Mater Dei Hospital, Malta. 

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