Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is eye damage, specifically to the retina, that is caused by diabetes. It can lead to blindness if not treated promptly. Most people with diabetes who have complications of diabetes that affect the eye only experience minor eye conditions and mild visual impairment.

The most common form of diabetic retinopathy is called nonproliferative retinopathy. Nonproliferative retinopathy causes the capillaries, tiny blood vessels, of the eyes to weaken. The capillaries balloon and become blocked.

The body naturally tries to replace these compromised capillaries, but the new capillaries are weak. These new, weak capillaries have a tendency to fail and leak blood into the vitreous of the eye. When blood invades the vitreous part of the eye, vision is blocked. This is called a vitreous hemorrhage.

The prevention of blindness from diabetic retinopathy is best if treatment is sought immediately after the onset of symptoms. Laser treatments target the failing capillaries to prevent them from causing further damage. Laser treatments do not reverse any vision loss or visual impairment. Potential side effects of some laser treatments include temporary blurry vision and loss of peripheral vision.

 In severe cases, a vitrectomy may be necessary. A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure during which blood is removed from the vitreous. Any scar tissue that formed as a resut of the diabetic retinopathy is also removed during the surgery. If the retina has become attached, an attempt to reattach the retina is usually made during the vitrectomy. The reattachment of the retina is only successful in about half the cases.

In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetic patients are at greater risk for developing glaucoma and cataracts. The best way to avoid blindness and other serious complications of diabetes is to manage blood glucose levels and seek prompt medical attention as soon as the symptoms of a complication arise.


Diabetes Diet

The diabetic patient should consider meeting with a dietician or nutritionist to develop a diabetes diet with which the patient feels comfortable. The dietician can not only device a dietary plan that can help control the diabetes, but can also include provisions that will help the diabetic lose weight if that is recommended or desired.

The typical diabetes diet includes a specified number of portions from each food group. The diabetic patient frequently has the freedom to select foods from the food groups as long as they follow the portion guidelines.

 For example, if the diabetes diet specifies that breakfast needs to consist of one protein, one bread, one fat, and one fruit, the diabetic patient has the freedom to chose which foods they will eat to fill those specifications. Among the various options, they may chose to have an egg, toast, butter, and juice or toast, peanut butter, and an apple.

A typical diabetes diet includes two servings of milk, six to eight starches, three to four vegetables, two to three fruits, up to four fats, and four to six ounces of meat or other protein. These portions are often outlined into the meals and two snacks. The dietician can provide a wealth of information on how best to structure and fill the dietary requirements.

Following a diabetes diet becomes easier with time. The diabetic patient is likely to learn what combinations of food are most pleasing and most healthy for the maintenance of the diabetes. Consuming large portions of starch without protein will often cause a spike in blood sugar levels as a non-diabetic dessert would. Therefore, just avoiding sugary sweets is not enough. Fruit juice also tends to raise blood sugar levels more than a piece of fruit would.

The diabetic patient should feel comfortable asking questions and being directly involved with the development of the diabetic diet. If the diabetic patient has a favorite food, it can often be worked into the diet with the help of the dietician. Just because the patient has to follow dietary specifications to control the diabetes does not mean that the patient must feel deprived or hungry. The formation and following of a diabetes diet can be a rewarding experience.

Diabetes Complications

Diabetes complications can be serious. Diabetes can cause nerve damage. Nerve damage caused by diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. People with diabetic neuropathy may experience numbness, pain, or tingling in the extremities or have no symptoms. Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, especially for diabetic patients who have had diabetes for over twenty-five years.

People with diabetes have an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Fatty deposits can accumulate inside blood vessels due to high levels of glucose in the blood. These fatty deposits constrict blood flow which can lead to heart disease. If a blood vessel in the brain or neck becomes clogged, it can cause a stroke.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease associated with diabetes. Diabetes retinopathy is a condition that can cause the small blood vessels of the eyes to leak blood. This condition can cause blurriness, blank spots, dark spots, flashing lights, and pain or pressure in the eyes.

If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, it can lead to blindness. If diabetic patients experience any vision problems, they should notify their physicians. Diabetic retinopathy can be treated with lasers to stop blood vessels from continuing to leak into the vitreous of the eye.

Diabetes can cause kidney failure. People who have had diabetes for at least fifteen years are at greater risk for kidney failure. Diabetes impairs the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood.  

There are some lesser-known complications of diabetes. Erectile dysfunction affects thirty-five to fifty percent of men with diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can increase a diabetic patient’s risk of tooth and gum disease.

Gastroparesis is caused my nerve damage affecting the nerves of the stomach. This complication of diabetes causes gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, reflux, and nausea. Gastroparesis extends the amount of time it takes for food to digest. Partially undigested food can sit in the stomach for significant periods of time which can cause a blockage of the digestive tract.  

Signs Of Diabetes – First Signs Of Diabetes, Symptoms Of Diabetes

The common signs and symptoms of diabetes include an increase in thirst; the urgency to urinate more often, especially at night; feeling extremely tired; loss of weight; blurred vision; repeated episodes of thrush or genital itching. These symptoms of diabetes mellitus are generally the same for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, however, the development of the symptoms differ for each type. 

Diabetes mellitus occurs due to high levels of glucose in the blood because the body can not utilise it efficiently. In Type 1 diabetes, the body can not produce any insulin hormone, therefore, the glucose can not enter the body cells to be used as a fuel and as a result, remains in the blood. In Type 2 diabetes, only small amounts of the insulin hormone are produced – this is generally not enough or the insulin does not work properly.

The first signs of Type 1 diabetes are more obvious, severe and have a quicker onset, usually over a few weeks. Additional symptoms may include cramps, constipation and infections of the skin.

In contrast, those with Type 2 diabetes, their symptoms develop over a period of months and are less obvious, and some may experience no symptoms at all. Additional symptoms may include poor wound healing and the appearance of dark, smooth skin patches on your neck or in the armpits.

The above signs and sypmtoms of diabetes, regardless of the type can be quickly and easily relieved during treatment. Early treatment is necessary to prevent development of serious complications arising from the diabetes.

What Causes Diabetes

What causes diabetes is a lack of production or effectiveness of the body’s insulin. Insulin is necessary for the delivery of sugar to the body’s cells. When the effectiveness or amount of insulin is lacking, the level of sugar, or glucose, in the blood rises. High blood sugar levels are detrimental to the health of the affected individual.

Causes of diabetes coincide with the types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by a failure of the pancreas to produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes is also called juvenile diabetes. Due to the lack of insulin, the diabetic patient with type 1 diabetes must take insulin. This can be done with individual injections of insulin or insulin pump therapy.

Some physicians believe that type 1 diabetes may be caused by exposure to a virus either prior to birth or in childhood. Though the exact cause is unknown, a genetic influence or response to a virus causes the immune system to attack the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin. When the insulin-producing cells sustain damage or are destroyed, the individual is left with little or no insulin.

The cause of type 2 diabetes is an increased resistance to the effects of the body’s insulin. Type 2 diabetes can result if the pancreas begins producing less insulin than usual. The onset of type 2 diabetes occurs during adulthood. It is sometimes called noninsulin dependent diabetes since it can often be controlled by following a diabetic diet and exercise.

The cause of gestational diabetes is a resistance to insulin during pregnancy. The placenta produces hormones that can make the pregnant woman’s body more resistant to insulin than usual. If the pregnant woman’s pancreas fails to compensate by producing extra insulin, she develops gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is usually controllable with a gestational diabetes diet and exercise.