It can be shocking to learn what wide-reaching impacts diabetes has on the body. While diabetes mainly affects insulin production and blood sugar processing, the effects of that imbalance can affect the body from head to toe. In the past, we’ve discussed how diabetes can impact foot health through peripheral neuropathy and the importance of checking for the signs of nerve damage. But diabetic eye disease is also an important concern for many seniors.
What Causes Diabetic Eye Disease?
Our bodies break down food into sugar and release it into the bloodstream for our cells to use as energy. Insulin is the chemical that allows cells to absorb the sugar in our blood. However, diabetic people either don’t produce insulin or can’t use insulin effectively. As a result, a diabetic person’s blood sugar remains dangerously high.
Sugar might seem like an innocuous substance, but it can wreak havoc on virtually every part of the body. In time, diabetes can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss. Unfortunately, this condition may be more prevalent than most people realize. Ten percent of all Americans have diabetes, and another 88 million more have prediabetes: a condition when blood sugar is dangerously high, but not yet high enough to qualify as diabetes. If left untreated, prediabetes can increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes–and diabetic retinopathy as a result. Of that 88 million, 84 percent are not even aware that they may be at risk. The clear need for education and awareness is a large part of what makes diabetic eye disease awareness so important.
How Does Diabetes Impact Your Vision?
Unfortunately, anyone with diabetes may be at risk for vision loss or even blindness due to diabetic complications. While diabetes can impair vision in many different ways, diabetic retinopathy is the most common. In fact, two in five Americans diagnosed with diabetes also experience diabetic retinopathy. This type of diabetic eye disease results from damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Cataracts are another possible side effect of diabetes, as damage to the eye’s lens causes clouding and disrupts vision. Glaucoma is also a possibility, resulting from increased fluid pressure in the eye and leading to optic nerve damage.
While diabetes can have many different impacts on eye health, many of the warning signs are similar. See a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Dark spots in your vision.
- Difficulty reading or focusing on details.
- Blurry vision, especially around the edges.
- Seeing more “floaters,” or tiny specks in your vision.
While living with diabetes, any change in your vision can be cause for alarm. But the real danger of diabetic retinopathy and other eye concerns is that they may not manifest symptoms until the damage is severe. That’s part of what makes prevention and regular checkups such a vital part of any diabetic eye health routine.
Diabetic Eye Disease is Treatable
The first step to maintaining your eye health is by treating your diabetes. For the 90 to 95 percent of diabetic Americans with type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes can make a marked difference in symptoms like diabetic retinopathy. Regular exercise and a good diet can also prevent type 2 diabetes in the first place. A healthy lifestyle is especially important for the 88 million Americans with prediabetes.
Aside from treating diabetes, a crucial step you can take to protect your vision is to schedule yourself for frequent eye-checks with your doctor. Because many symptoms of diabetic eye issues take a long time to appear, only regular eye exams can reliably identify when you may be at risk. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will suffer some form of diabetic vision impairment. However, on a positive note, early detection of diabetic retinopathy can reduce the risk of blindness by 90 percent. Common treatments for diabetic retinopathy include laser surgery and medication.
See How Life Could Be A Little Easier
Because of the wide-reaching impacts diabetes has on your wellbeing, living with this disease can make many daily tasks more difficult. If you’re experiencing issues with your vision or mobility due to diabetes, you might benefit from the services of an in-home caregiver. A caregiver can assist in the simple yet crucial tasks that go into managing type 2 diabetes. It takes a lot of work to figure out a healthy meal plan and cook nutritious meals. However, a caregiver can take those chores off your plate.
If you’re having issues with your vision, you probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel–but with an in-home caregiver, that won’t slow you down at all. Caregivers can be a valuable asset when it comes to transportation, especially to and from doctors’ appointments. If you’re concerned about diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a caregiver can keep an eye out for the symptoms that you might not be able to see, such as assisting in foot exams to inspect for cuts or discoloration in hard-to-reach areas. With a disease that impacts so many areas of life, you need an advocate with the flexibility to meet your varied needs. An in-home caregiver might be precisely what you need!
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.