Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the back of the eye on the retina become damaged. The damaged blood vessels can leak fluid into the retina, or they can break open and bleed. A laser treatment, performed at our office, can be performed to control the bleeding. For this procedure, anesthesia is provided by eye drops.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the industrialized world for people between the ages of 25 and 74. All diabetics should have yearly eye exams.

Chronic diabetes is either Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 can develop at any age, although it usually appears during childhood or adolescence. Type 2, the most common type, is usually found in people over 40 but can also develop at any age.

Prediabetes is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy but may resolve after the baby is delivered.

The longer you have diabetes, the higher the risk of complications. Eventually, diabetes complications may be disabling or even life-threatening.

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there's not enough available insulin)
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections of the gums, skin or vaginal infections
  • Eat healthy. Eat foods high in nutrition and fiber and low in fat and calories
  • Increase physical activity to at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day
  • Insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump, blood sugar checks, and carbohydrate counting
  • Monitor blood sugar with a continuous glucose monitor, glucose meter or fingerstick
  • Regular A1C testing to measure average blood sugar level
  • Insulin therapy by injection or pump.
  • New treatment is called closed loop insulin delivery, also called the artificial pancreas. This links a continuous glucose monitor to an insulin pump automatically delivering the correct amount of insulin as needed
  • Artificial pancreas. In 2016, an insulin pump combined with a continuous glucose monitor and a computer algorithm was approved by the US FDA
  • Oral or other medications
  • Pancreatic transplant
  • Bariatric surgery to promote weight loss

Risk factors vary depending on the type of diabetes:

Type 1

  • Family history, a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Evidence of damaging immune system cells (autoantibodies)
  • Location. Certain areas of the world have higher rates of Type 1 diabetes, i.e. Finland and Sweden

Type 2

  • Weight
  • Inactivity
  • Family history
  • Black people, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans are at higher risk.
  • Rick of diabetes increases as you get older
  • Gestational diabetes during pregnancy increases risk later
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth, obesity) increases risk
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Gestational diabetes

  • Pregnant over age 25
  • Family or personal history 
  • Being overweight before pregnancy
  • Black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian are at higher risk

Low blood sugar is treated with quickly absorbed carbohydrates, such as fruit juice or glucose tablets.

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