Approximately 700,000 individuals in Hong Kong, or around 10 per cent of the population, are diabetic .
20 per cent of diabetics are expected to develop diabetes related eye disease.
Such dire figures have spurred an eye expert to stress that diabetics ought to have frequent checkups.
Diabetes impacts the effective functioning of blood vessels as well as nerves, particularly those of the eyes.
This causes complications like glaucoma, cataracts and macular oedema, which increase the likelihood of blindness, according to David Wong Sai-hung, chair professor of the University of Hong Kong's ophthalmology department.
Diabetics with poor dietary and glucose control are at an even higher risk of developing such complications over time.
Should diabetics not get the treatment they need in time, a quarter of those with macular oedema will only have moderate vision loss in three years, warned Wong.
Patients who have had uncontrolled diabetes for 10 years plus are more likely to suffer from retinopathy, or damage to the retina, a huge factor related to loss of sight.
In the early stages, diabetic eye disease does not show any symptoms so patients are unaware of it.
Wong advises at least one retinal examination per year, although there is no known cure for the disease.
He adds that an active lifestyle and a healthy diet present possible preventive steps.
Diabetes Endemic in Hong Kong
Mon, 11 Oct 2010
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