Monthly Archives: June 2013

Diabetes can affect your eyesight

Imagine a door shutting slowly till there is just a sliver of light between you and darkness. It can happen to people with diabetes. Not many people realize that diabetes can affect their vision, their ability to read and write, appreciate the colours of the rainbow and the beauty of the flowers around them. Slowly their world can turn from light to darkness.

Diabetes causes problems in the retina, the delicate tissue that is sensitive to light. It is the retina that converts light into electrical signals that travel along the optic nerve to your brain. The brain then interprets these signs to ‘see’ the world around you. The retina is supplied with blood by a delicate network of blood vessels. This is where diabetes comes in. It damages these blood vessels thereby affecting your eyesight.

Diabetes causes problems in the retina with what are collectively called microvascular abnormalities. The small blood vessels develop microaneurysms and leak blood. New blood vessel growth occurs. However,  these blood vessels are weak and also leak. These leaks – haemorrhages – can cause irreversible damage to the retina and result in vision loss.

The unusual changes in blood sugar levels resulting from diabetes can affect the lens inside the eye. The result is retinopathy – damage to the retina which occurs when there is damage to the small blood vessels that nourish tissue and nerve cells in the retina.

The longer a person has diabetes,the greater the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy. It is said that almost 80% of  people who have diabetes for 15 years or more suffer some damage to the blood vessels and their retina – and have a greater chance of developing retinopathy. Diabetes can affect any of the cranial nerves that are responsible for the movement of the eye. This can cause peripheral vision, a dangerous condition when reading, writing or driving.

Although individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age and twice as likely to develop glaucoma vs non-diabetics, the primary vision problem caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy.

When you have diabetic retinopathy no two days are the same. Your vision changes along with blood sugar levels. People with the condition have noticed that when their sugar drops, they can actually see better.

The unusual changes in blood sugar levels resulting from diabetes can affect the lens inside the eye,  especially when diabetes is uncontrolled. This can result in blurring of vision which comes and goes over the course of the day, depending on the blood sugar level. People with diabetes are more likely to get bacterial infection, including pink eye and an eyelid sty. This is because diabetes affects the auto-response immune system of the body, lowering one’s resistance to infection.

The eye being a sensitive organ, it is important to control diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels as low as possible, practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands frequently and avoiding constant contact such as touching and rubbing your eyes. A yearly visit to an ophthalmologist will help you keep your condition in check and may prevent it from worsening. You can partner with your ophthalmologist towards the maintenance of the health of your eyes. It’s worth the time and effort,to ensure that diabetes does not steal from you one of the greatest gifts of life – sight.

Diabetes: The Silent Killer

Diabetes is often called ‘the silent killer’. You never know when it comes on,it

preys on the body and can take away one’s limbs, affect the eyes and eat away one’s organs.

                                                      
                                                                                    What is diabetes?
Diabetes – or diabetes mellitus in medical terms – is a disorder caused by insufficient or no production of the hormone insulin by the pancreas. Insulin is responsible for the absorption of glucose into cells for their energy needs and into the liver and fat cells for storage.If there is deficiency of insulin, levels of glucose in the blood stream become abnormally high, causing unquenchable thirst and the tendency to urinate frequently.

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, the more severe form,  usually first appears in people under the age of 35 and most commonly between the ages of 10 and 15. It develops rapidly. The insulin secreting cells in the pancreas are destroyed probably as a result of an immune response after a viral infection, and insulin production ceases almost completely. Without regular injections of insulin,the sufferer can lapse into a coma. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong illness. Patients with Type 1 diabetes have an increased chance of developing cardio-vascular disease, suffer loss of vision and loss of limbs.

The other type, Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is usually of gradual onset and develops mainly in people over 40. In many cases it is discovered only during a routine medical examination. Not enough insulin is produced for the body’s needs, specially when the person is over-weight.  Often the body is resistant to the effects of insulin.In most cases insulin replacement injections are not needed.Instead, a combination of dietary measures,weight reduction and oral medicines controls the condition.

Causes
Diabetes tends to run in families. However,of those who inherit the genes responsible for the insulin-dependent form, only a small proportion eventually develops the disease. In these cases, the disorder is thought to be the delayed result of a viral infection that damaged the pancreas several years earlier. In the case of non-insulin-dependent diabetes, a greater proportion of the people who are pre-disposed by heredity actually go on to develop the disease.


Treatment

The aims of the treatment are to prolong life, relieve symptoms and prevent longterm complications. Success depends on keeping the level blood glucose as near normal as possible through maintenance of normal weight, regular physical activity, careful dietary management and, if necessary, injections of insulin.

In people with insulin-dependent diabetes, treatment consists of regular self-injections–between one and four times a day – with insulin. In addition, the person must follow a diet in which carbohydrate intake is regulated and spread out over the day. By this means,marked fluctuations in the glucose levels in the blood can be avoided.

In non-insulin-dependent diabetes, because the pancreas does produce some insulin, the disorder can often be controlled by dietary means (regulating the carbohydrate intake with meals spaced out over the day). This not only lowers the blood glucose level but also reduces weight.If diet fails to lower the glucose level sufficiently,oral tablets that stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin may be prescribed, although these are ineffective unless dietary restrictions are observed.

All people with diabetes need regular advice from their doctors so that any complications can be detected and treated at any early stage. Diabetics should wear or carry information identifying them as diabetics in case of an emergency.

There is no cure for diabetes but it can be successfully managed with careful medical monitoring which minimizes complications With modern treatment and sensible self-monitoring,diabetics can look forward to a normal,healthy and active life.