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How Diabetes Can Affect Your Eyes

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Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar is too high. This occurs because the disease makes it difficult for your body to make enough insulin or use it properly. There are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes and it occurs in children and young adults. This type occurs when the body doesn’t make insulin. The second type is Type II diabetes. This type can occur at any age and it is caused if your body doesn’t make insulin or if it doesn’t use it well.

If not treated properly, diabetes can cause serious health problems including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Food problems
  • Nerve damage
  • Dental problems
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Eye problems

What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease is more than one disease that can affect people who suffer from diabetes. People who don’t keep their diabetes under control are at greater risk of eye complications. Also, each of the conditions can cause serious vision loss and even blindness. If you suffer from diabetes, it is important that you understand each of the diseases and what they can do to your eyes.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. The condition affects the blood vessels in the retina, which lines the back of the eye. If your blood sugar is often high, it can cause damage to the retina’s tiny blood vessels. This can result in the blood vessels bleeding or leaking fluid which can cause distortions in the vision. When the condition progresses, it can result in scarring and cell loss in the retina, causing complete blindness. In many cases, vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy is irreversible. Early detection and treatment can reduce your risk of going blind by 95 percent.
  • Diabetic Macular Edema (DME): DME often occurs in people who have diabetic retinopathy. While it often occurs when the disease progresses, it can occur at any time. It is a build-up of fluid in the macula. This part of the eye is used for seeing straight ahead to read, drive, and recognize faces. Half of the people who develop diabetic retinopathy develop DME. If left untreated, it can cause vision loss.
  • Cataracts: A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. When a person has cataracts, their natural lens would be removed and replaced with an artificial one. Anyone can develop cataracts, however, people with diabetes are two to five times more likely to develop cataracts than those who aren’t diabetic.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is often the result of high pressure in the eye, and it is very common in people with diabetes. Studies have shown that adults who suffer from diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma than those who don’t have the disease.

Preventing Diabetic Eye Disease

The only way to prevent diabetic eye disease is to be vigilant when it comes to your blood sugar levels. You should also see your eye doctor every six months. The sooner a problem is detected, the sooner it can be treated, saving your eyesight. Many of the diabetic eye diseases won’t show any symptoms at first, therefore, it is very important that you see your eye doctor regularly.

Diabetes can wreak havoc on many of the body’s systems including your vision. The only way to prevent permanent vision loss and blindness is to check your blood sugar levels regularly and take the necessary steps to keep it at a healthy level.

 

 

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Understanding Type 2 Diabetes

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Type 2 diabetes is a life-long disease that affects the way your body handles the glucose in your blood. There are 27 million people in the United States who suffer from this condition and 86 million people with prediabetes.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

There are several things that cause type 2 diabetes. Usually, it is a combination of a few of the causes.

  • Genes: Recent studies have shown that different parts of you DNA can affect the way that your body makes insulin, resulting in type 2 diabetes.
  • Being overweight or obese: If a person is carrying extra weight, it can cause insulin resistance, causing type 2 diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome: People who are insulin resistant often have high blood glucose, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and extra weight around the waist.
  • A liver that doesn’t function properly: If you have low blood sugar, your liver produces glucose. After you eat, your blood sugar will go up and the liver will slow down. Some people’s livers don’t function properly, so it keeps cranking out sugar even when it is not necessary.
  • Poor communication between cells: If the cells in the body send the wrong signals or they don’t pick up the signals, it can affect the way that the cells make insulin or glucose, causing diabetes.

Risk Factors

There are certain risk factors that won’t cause you to develop type 2 diabetes, but they can increase your chances of developing it.

  • If you are 45 years or older
  • If a parent, sister, or brother suffers from diabetes
  • People of certain ethnicity are more prone, including African-American, Pacific Islander-American, Alaska Native, Native American, Hispanic, Asian-American.
  • Prediabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Having a baby over 9 pounds
  • Having gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Too much sleep

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Many of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes are so mild that they are unnoticeable. There are millions of people who have it and don’t know it. This is because many of the symptoms can be blamed on something else.

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Blurry or cloudy vision
  • Irritability
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Wounds that don’t heal
  • Recurring yeast infections

Long Term Effects of Type 2 Diabetes

Over time, high blood sugar can cause damage and lasting problems. These include:

  • Heart and blood vessels
  • Eyes
  • Kidneys
  • Nerves
  • Would healing
  • Pregnancy

Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes

There are a variety of tests that your doctor can perform to confirm your type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

  • A1C: This test determines the average of your blood glucose over the last 2 to 3 months.
  • Fasting plasma glucose: This test measures your sugar when your stomach is empty. You cannot eat or drink anything but water for 8 hours before the test.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): This is a test that checks your blood glucose before and two hours after you consume a sweet drink. It tests the way that your body handles sugar.

How to Manage Your Type 2 Diabetes

You can still live a healthy life as long as your take the necessary steps to manage your diabetes.

  • Take your insulin faithfully
  • Take your diabetes medications that are prescribed by your doctor
  • Check your blood glucose often
  • Eat a proper, diabetes-friendly diet
  • Don’t skip meals
  • See your doctor for regular checkups and make an appointment if you are not feeling well

Type 2 diabetes can be a very serious condition if it is not diagnosed and treated properly. When managed properly, you can live a full and healthy life with this disease.

 

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