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Archive for July, 2009

The Diabetes And Vision Problems

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Diabetes is a disease that mostly affects blood vessels and in its extreme forms can lead to serious heart disease, stroke and kidney damage. It is obvious that these life-threatening diabetic vascular diseases deserve priority attention, but at the top of the list critical for diabetics is the risk of serious eye diseases and vision loss.

Vision is one of our most critical and, in this “need for speed” information age, over 70% of our sensory information passes through our eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, diabetics are 25 times more likely to lose vision than those who are not diabetic. With diabetes already the leading cause of blindness in the USA, it is not surprising that eye care professionals are devastating foresee an increase in the loss of vision that the epidemic of diabetes is growing alarmingly.

Newly diagnosed diabetics have often nothing more than minor vision changes that regulate when blood sugar levels improve with treatment. From the outset it is easy to believe everything is fine. After a few years, however, still high blood sugar can gradually damage the blood vessels in the back of the eye in the retina. This causes a problem called diabetic retinopathy and the more you have diabetes the more likely you are to have retinopathy. The risk increases again when it is poor glycemic control. More than 70% of diabetics develop some changes to their eyes in 15 years of diagnosis.

The retinopathy is classified as non-proliferation or proliferative. Non-proliferation retinopathy is the benign form, the retina where small blood vessels break and leak. It May be some slight swelling the retina, but it rarely requires treatment unless it causes blurred central vision or straight lines appear distorted. Proliferative retinopathy is the less frequent but more serious when new blood vessels grow abnormally in the retina. If these vessels scar or purge they can potentially lead to serious vision loss, including blindness. Launch of laser treatment can seal leaking vessels and slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy, but can not reverse the loss of existing vision.

For the moment there is no “magic pill” to eliminate the risk of eye damage diabetics, but you can do two important things to help prevent more serious complications. Poor blood sugar is a leading cause of severe diabetic retinopathy. The critical first step is making sure to stabilize and control your blood sugar with a healthy diet and regular exercise. The second step is to make sure you have a diabetic an eye examination. An experienced professional eye care can pick up subtle changes diabetic eye long before you notice a change in vision and, more importantly, sufficient time to do some good.