Diabetic Eye Disease

People who have diabetes are at high risk for a number of eye problems that can cause severe vision loss or blindness. The most common diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy, which is damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the lightsensitive membrane at the back of the eyeball. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels in the retina may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes can produce loss of vision or blindness.

In the early stages of the disease, no pain or other symptoms may be present. This is why, if you have diabetes, you should have your eyes examined at least once a year. During the examination, the doctor will use eyedrops to dilate (enlarge) your pupils so that he or she can see inside your eyes to check for signs of the disease. As diabetic retinopathy progresses, the person may experience blurred vision or vision loss.

Doctors treat diabetic retinopathy by using laser surgery to seal the leaking blood vessels or to shrink abnormal vessels. Diabetic retinopathy cannot be prevented, but you can reduce your risk of developing the disease and slow its onset and progression by keeping your blood glucose level within normal range.

A cataract (see page 390) is a cloudy covering that appears over the normally clear lens of the eye. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop cataracts as are people without diabetes. Cataracts also develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes. Usually cataracts can be surgically removed.

If you have diabetes, you also have twice the normal risk of developing glaucoma (see page 388). This disease is caused by abnormally high pressure from excess fluid in the eyeball. The increased pressure damages the optic nerve and blood vessels in the eye, resulting in vision loss. Doctors treat glaucoma with medications or laser surgery.

Early detection and treatment, before vision loss occurs, are the best ways to control diabetic eye disease. If you have diabetes, make sure you have a thorough eye examination at least once a year. For more information on diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma, see chapter 20.

inhibitor can sometimes help prevent kidney damage, even if your blood pres- 371

sure is normal. It is very important to control your blood pressure to prevent kid- Endocrine ney damage. Be sure to take your blood pressure medication as prescribed. See system your doctor right away if you think you might have a bladder or kidney infection, indicated by cloudy or bloody urine, pain or burning during urination, and frequent urination or an urgent need to urinate. Back pain, chills, and fever also are possible symptoms of a kidney infection.

Over time, a high blood glucose level can damage the nerves in your body. Nerve damage due to diabetes can produce a loss of sensation or cause pain and

Delicious Diabetic Recipes

Delicious Diabetic Recipes

This brilliant guide will teach you how to cook all those delicious recipes for people who have diabetes.

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