November is recognized at National Diabetes Awareness Month, and the 14th of November is National Diabetes Awareness Day. There are few illnesses that take a toll on the body the way diabetes does. From the inner working of vital organs to extremities like toes and fingers, everything can be impacted. To help bring about awareness, we’re sharing some information about diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a health issue that affects insulin production and blood sugar absorption in the body. It’s estimated that over 30 million Americans have diabetes, and there are many more who don’t know they have it yet. There are 2 types of diabetes.
Type 1 – caused by genetics and environmental factors like viruses, and the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This type usually has a quick onset of symptoms in the younger years of life, but it can arise at any time.
Type 2 – caused by factors like genetics, family history, obesity, or physical inactivity. About 95% of cases diagnosed are Type 2 diabetes. Symptoms usually develop over several years and may not be noticed by patients until they experience a related health problem.
- Increased thirst, hunger, and/or urination
- Blurred vision
- Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
- Sores that won’t heal
- Unexplained weight loss
Before developing type 2 diabetes, many patients will have prediabetes. Prediabetes is categorized by elevated blood sugar levels. Prediabetes affects 1 in 3 U.S. adults, and many of them are unaware of the possible health issues that are just around the corner for them. It’s possible for sugar in the blood to reach very high levels and stay elevated for two or more years with little to no symptoms, and prediabetes is relatively symptom-free. In fact, you can go 5-10 years without knowing you have prediabetes or diabetes. It’s up to you and your primary care physician to have bloodwork done to identify any possible concerns.
Diabetes & Eye Health
Diabetes affects many parts of the body, including the eyes. The eyes are very delicate, with intricate nerve and blood vessel highways intertwining and working together to bring us sight. When the blood sugar levels are elevated, they start to take a toll on these fragile roadways. Diabetes usually affects visual function first, reducing the ability to see vibrant colors, in dim light situations, or peripherally.
As the damages get worse, it causes leaks and ruptures in the blood vessels and harms the nerves. Healthcare professionals refer to this damage as diabetic retinopathy, and it’s not a question of if but when those with diabetes will develop retinopathy. Practitioners categorize diabetic retinopathy as nonproliferative (mild to moderate) and proliferative (moderate to severe). As the bleeding worsens, black spots fill the visual perspective, blocking out what you can see. By this time, the damage has been done.
Be Proactive with Diabetes Care
The best way to avoid the long-term damages of diabetes is early detection and intervention. Annual visits to your primary care physician and eye doctors can help identify any changes in your vision or health before the destruction becomes irreversible. More than visiting doctors once a year, actively changing your lifestyle can dramatically decrease the odds of diabetes developing or worsening.
Eating better and exercising are the two most common and impactful suggestions for improving health and reducing the impact of diabetes. Another addition that can help, specifically to support eye health, is an eye vitamin. EyePromise DVS is specifically designed to support eye health for patients with diabetes. The best part? EyePromise DVS has been formulated to not impact blood sugar levels!
Learn more about EyePromise DVS.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services; 2017.
- Bansal P, Gupta RP, Kotecha M. Frequency of diabetic retinopathy in patients with diabetes mellitus and its correlation with duration of diabetes mellitus. Med J DY Patil Univ 2013;6:366-9
- “Eye Complications.” American Diabetes Association, American Diabetes Association, 1 Nov. 2013, www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/eye-complications/.
- “ICO Guidelines for Diabetic Eye Care.” International Council of Ophthalmology, Jan. 2017.
- “Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Nov. 2016, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/symptoms-causes.
- Solomon, Sharon D., et al. “Diabetic Retinopathy: A Position Statement by the American Diabetes Association.” Diabetes Care, American Diabetes Association, 1 Mar. 2017, care.diabetesjournals.org/content/40/3/412.
- “What Is Diabetes?” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Nov. 2016, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes.
- “What Is Diabetes?”, Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, 2016, www.diabetesresearch.org/what-is-diabetes.
- “A Snapshot: Diabetes in the United States.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 Nov. 2017.