Diabetic Retinal Photography (DRP)
Are you always thinking of telling the Nurse Counsellor “I don’t need a diabetic eye check. I know my eyes best!” Yes, I am talking about you! Having no abnormalities in your vision does not mean you do not have eye problems. Do not wait for your vision to deteriorate before deciding to do an eye screen. When eye symptoms do appear, the eye condition may already be at an advanced stage. Therefore, if you are a diabetic, it is recommended that you do a yearly diabetic eye screening to detect early eye complications.
During the Diabetic Retinal Photography (DRP) session, a digital camera is used to capture two-field retinal photographs for each eye which are then transmitted electronically to a reading centre. The images are graded by a centralized team of trained and accredited technicians at the backend before returning the results to your doctor.
The earlier the detection of any eye complications, the higher the chance of recovery with early treatment.
Let’s have an overview on the different types of diabetic eye complications:
Blood vessels at the back of the affected eye may swell, leak fluid or bleed which affect the vision. When left untreated, this can cause permanent damage to the vision or even blindness.
However, early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by 95%. Diabetic retinopathy often lacks early symptoms.
Diabetic Macular Oedema
This happens when excessive fluid starts building up at the back of the eye.
Macular Oedema can be treated with injections of medications into the eye or with laser treatment. There is a continued need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to achieve good control of diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
This is a clouding of the eye’s lens. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window. Adults with diabetes are 2-5 times more likely than those without diabetes to develop cataracts. Cataracts also tends to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.
The only definitive treatment for cataracts is surgery. Please seek treatment early as cataracts can worsen faster in people with diabetes which can also lead to other eye complications.
Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve—the bundle of nerve fibres that connects the eye to the brain. It can develop at any age but is more common in people over the age of 60. Glaucoma may be asymptomatic. There is a chance you may not notice a change in vision until the condition has reached an advanced stage.
Glaucoma may result permanent vision loss. Nevertheless, regular follow up and treatment and can help slow or prevent vision loss, especially if the disease is detected at its early stages.
Diabetes eye complications may affect your vision as shown in the diagrams below.
In conclusion, DRP is an important screening process for detecting diabetic eye conditions. When you screen your eyes regularly, early eye complications when detected can be followed by early treatment with an overall improvement in outcomes. By the time you develop an abnormal vision, treatment may be difficult and expensive. Speak to your doctor or nurse about getting your yearly DRP done.
Serene Ang (Ms)
Senior Nurse Counsellor (Healthcare Services)
Publication: 16th August 2020