Early Detection is Crucial for Diabetes-Related Eye Problems
Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness in the United States. About 30% of the 25 million diabetics in the US have diabetic eye disease. That figure represents a lot of people who need to understand their disease.
Diabetic eye disease begins when chronically high blood sugar levels damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina. This gradual painless process goes unnoticed until vision loss occurs. Early-stage damage from diabetes is called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR). Annual eye exams will detect these changes before eyesight becomes affected.
When leakage of blood and fluid into the retina occurs, eyesight becomes affected. If unchecked, further compromise of the retinal circulation may cause proliferative retinopathy (PDR). This potentially devastating complication of diabetes can cause severe vision loss and blindness.
A variety of treatments for both NPDR and PDR are quite helpful in limiting further retinal damage and improving eyesight. In fact over the last 30 years, the likelihood of blindness in Type I (juvenile diabetics) has decreased almost 60%.
Many diabetics also have high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol and/or triglycerides). Maintaining good diabetic and blood pressure control along with controlling lipids lowers the risk of retinopathy development and/or worsening.
The message for all diabetics is plain and simple:
• Adequate control of blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids is critical in preventing diabetic retinopathy and vision loss.
• Annual eye exams should be part of every diabetics plan of care. Are you one of the 40% of diabetics who don’t have annual checkup?
December 22, 2015
Macular Degeneration a Concern for Seniors
The media missed an important medical study this month. Nothing glamorous like a new drug that cures a previously untreatable or a new advance to revolutionize medicine. Just real world advice for people with Macular Degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects individuals over 60 with painless loss of vision. It can occur slowly over years or happen suddenly. Symptoms include shadowy areas in the central vision, or fuzzy and distorted vision. Patients may also have difficulty seeing fine details and straight lines may appear wavy or distorted. Sometimes only one eye loses vision while the other continues to see well for years.
A research study looked at women with a known genetic risk for AMD. Women who smoked, had a high risk diet and did not exercise were at greater risk to develop AMD.
What constitutes a low risk diet? A diet high in dark, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale contain lutein, a critical antioxidant, along with fruits and vegetables with bright color, like red grapes, peppers, corn, oranges, cantaloupe and mango. People who eat fish 2-3 times a week have a lower risk for AMD. Fish contains omega-3, a critical nutrient for the heart and eyes.
Recent studies have shown that people who exercised three times a week were less likely to develop AMD than people who didn't exercise. At least 10 hours/week of light exercise (such as housework or walking at an easy pace) or at least 8 hours of moderate activity (such as brisk walking) is sufficient.
The lesson here is that one can influence his or her genetic predisposition to AMD by lifestyle changes. Don’t forget to schedule routine eye exams, especially for people over 60.
November 18, 2015