Eye and Diabetes health: Tackling complications that are difficult

Complications: preventing is the motivation. Yet how much do we actually know about how to live together? After all, life doesn’t stop using a diabetes complication.

I’ve been thinking that if you are diligent with your diabetes management, that is not always a guarantee (nor is it simple!) . You could have BG control, but still develop some harm. Totally unfair, right? Here is the catalyst behind a new monthly series here in the ‘Mine, taking a closer look in complications one, to help all of us be educated and prepared to deal with what may come.   Since you simply never know…

btw, did you know that January is National Eye Care Month? So we are kicking off this show with diabetic eye disease. We found a great source to turn to in Dr. Paul Chous, an optometrist at the Seattle, WA, region who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 5. He himself coped with diabetic retinopathy as a PoliSci grad student in the mid-80s, prior to making a career change to become an optometrist. He has written a novel called Diabetic Eye Disease: Lessons from a Diabetic Eye Doctor and has donated numerous posts to dLife. He also speaks at conferences around the country to eye physicians on life with diabetes, so if your physician sounds particularly conducive in diabetes management, you can probably thank this man.

What precisely is diabetic eye disease?

Most individuals are familiar with the “Big Bad” of diabetic eye disease: diabetic retinopathy. It is the most famous complication linked to the eyes, but there are actually seven distinct conditions that could influence a PWD’s eyes: Cataracts; Glaucoma; Dry Eye Disease; Cranial Nerve Palsy; Ischemic Optic Neuropathy; Retinal Vascular Occlusion and Retinopathy. Whew. Retinopathy actually has a lot of stages of severity, ranging from “microscopic areas of blood vessel damage” into “small areas of bleeding and fluid leakage” into “abnormal blood vessel expansion causing a lot of bleeding and formation of scar tissue leading to permanent vision loss.” Whoa.

Diabetic retinopathy is indeed the most frequent eye complication, causing almost 24,000 cases of blindness from PWDs every year. It is also in the exact same family of complications as kidney disease and neuropathy, because it is a microvascular complication, meaning that it is caused by damage for your little blood vessels.

Caution signs and becoming checked

What is tricky is that many eye diseases seem with minimal symptoms, or so the vast majority of the moment, you won’t even be aware that you have any problems with your eyes. To put it differently, even somebody with perfect 20/20 vision and no pain or vision loss may find themselves confronting diabetic retinopathy. Patients may have early symptoms with cataracts (blurred vision), dry eye disease (watery or burning eyes, even although occasionally dulled from neuropathy from the eye), and cranial nerve palsy (sudden double vision). Most of the time, eye disease is not noticeable until bleeding stains seem or vision loss is acute, which means the complication has already progressed. Ugh.

This is why it’s crucial, experts say, to get a year dilated eye test in an ophthalmologist, a medical eye doctor (optometrists — who generally take care of routine examinations and corrective lenses — are also qualified). Only a qualified physician will have the ability to look deep within your eye and into your retina to find out whether there’s any harm. Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive disease, so even the tiniest sign has to be taken seriously.   We all know how annoying the eye drops and sensitivity to light are, but that’s temporary distress that may prevent a life of vision problems. So get the damn test, will ya?!

How to get a proper diagnosis

While either an ophthalmologist or optometrist can handle your yearly eye exam and provide you with the advice you need, just the ophthalmologist can offer surgical therapy, including laser surgery for cataracts, glaucoma, or retinopathy. Patients with acute diabetic retinopathy may also should see a physician specialist.

But how can you know whether your eye doctor is up to snuff? There is no “certification” in handling patients with diabetes, so like most experts, you need to do some interviewing. In his book, Dr. Chous outlines a few Important questions you can ask, including:

* Do you have a lot of experience with diabetes and its various effects on the eyes? Have you got any particular interest in diabetic eye disease?

* Do I have any symptoms of diabetic eye disease? Do I have any illness, glaucoma, corneal problems, retina problems or eye muscle

Problems that are being caused by diabetes?

* If I have diabetic eye disease, how can you recommend we manage or cure it? When would you wish to look at my condition?

Are you experienced with the surgical or laser treatment of diabetic eye disease? If my condition worsens, will you refer me to some sub-

Dr. Chous also urges asking if your physician photographs your retina. Why are images so significant? The only way to inform the development of the eye is to keep a list of how it looks. Most eye doctors must rely on memory, written descriptions, or drawings. Would you like your vision in the hands of your physician’s artistic skill? Look for somebody having more advanced visual equipment.

What can you do if you’re diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is regrettably not reversible, but it’s highly treatable, in regard to halting the development. To begin with, if it is not affecting your vision today, chances are it never will. Dr. Chous claims that among the greatest fears patients have about diabetes is going blind, but adds that our actual life risk of going blind from diabetes is just about 19 percent. With the modern tools and technology to treat diabetic eye disease, it is even less.

Early detection is the major key here. The sooner you find it, the more quickly you’re able to slow or stop the damage from progressing   during tightening BG control, routine follow-ups, and in advanced cases, called proliferative diabetic retinopathy, utilizing laser surgery or treatments to cure and restore vision.

Dr. Chous also urges adding a lot of fiber into your daily diet and cutting saturated fat, also states to keep working out unless the retinopathy is severe, so be certain to check with your physician before you start or stop your routine.

Managing diabetes with vision loss

In the case of vision loss (not necessarily total blindness), here are a few new tools being designed to help PWDs:

* Prodigy Voice is a perceptible sugar meter designed with help from the National Blind Institutions in addition to CDEs. It is programmed to talk to the consumer, verbally sharing their BG value in addition to blood glucose averages. The meter features tactile buttons along with a clearly different test strip for easier usage. Prodigy also has an audible insulin pump at the functions.

* Insulin pens can also be helpful for those who have vision loss, as most insulin pens will “click” when drawing a dosage. Insulin pens are available for both long-acting and short-acting insulin.

* Syringe magnifiers, that offer about 2X magnification to make these very small needle markings easier to see.

* Count-A-Dose, which helps you measure insulin out using a click-wheel that audibly suggests each unit.

* Syringe Support, which also helps you measure insulin out, combine insulins, and hold a syringe in place for injections.

… to name a couple.   Dr. Chous actually urges that PWDs that do not have any vision problems investigate and find out more about these tools, just in case. It is better to find out about a product once you’re able to still see it correctly, no?

Where do I get help for living with vision loss?

The National Federation for the Blind is the go-to resource here. Their site includes a section on useful tools and goods .

The majority of states have a Commission for the Blind, which provides resources and assistance for people that are legally blind. For starters, simply google “Commission for the Blind” and your state’s name.

Being diagnosed with a complication — or perhaps wondering in the event that you might have it is scary as hell, undoubtedly. The huge message to remember is that “life goes on…” as I know it’s for a lot of you out there. There are tools to cope and tools available to help you keep moving. In case you’ve got diabetic retinopathy or another diabetic eye disease, we’d love to hear your experiences in the comments and make this a real go-to resource for anyone facing eye problems.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is made for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn’t stick to Healthline’s editorial instructions. For more information regarding Healthline’s venture with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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