Ask the diabetes expert: What risks are there for patients who have had diabetes for a very long time?

Ask the diabetes expert: What risks are there for patients who have had diabetes for a very long time?
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W.T.M. Why This Matters
Diabetes is a hot topic in Singapore, especially after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's 2017 National Day Rally speech highlighting the need to fight this disease. To help tackle this issue, we asked you, our readers, if you had any questions about diabetes that we could help get answers to. Here is one of them.

Q. What risks are there for patients who have had diabetes for a very long time and what complications does diabetes have on the eye?

Microvascular and macrovascular complications can occur in people with long standing diabetes. Microvascular complications refer to complications to the eyes (retinopathy), peripheral nerves (neuropathy) and kidneys (nephropathy). Macrovascular complications refer to complications to the large vessels leading to stroke, heart attack and peripheral vascular disease.

Optimal control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol are key ingredients in reducing both the risk of diabetes-related microvascular and macrovascular complications.

Diabetes lead to higher risk of premature cataract, glaucoma, damage to the blood vessels at the back of the eye (retina) and swelling at the central area of the retina (macula) that controls vision. Diabetes is the leading cause of vision impairment and vision loss among working-age adults.

Dr Khoo Chin Meng, Senior Consultant, Division of Endocrinology, National University Hospital

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