The disabling condition of diabetes is a disease in which the levels of glucose in the blood are too high.
After a person consumes a meal, the food is broken down into glucose (sugar), which the blood transports to cells throughout the body. Insulin is required for the glucose to be converted into energy.
There are two types of diabetes. In Type 1 (early-onset) diabetes, the body lacks insulin necessary for converting glucose into energy. In Type 2 (late-onset) diabetes, enough insulin is produced, but the body fails to properly use it in order to convert the glucose into energy.
A prolonged increase of glucose levels in the blood can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels, which can lead to stroke, heart disease, blindness, extremity amputation, and possibly even death.
The most damaging eye condition diabetes causes is diabetic retinopathy. The incidence of this disease increases the longer someone suffers from diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy causes the blood vessels of the retina to leak, swell or develop abnormally, resulting in the retina being damaged. This can cause mild to severe vision loss.
The damage diabetic retinopathy causes could be used by an ophthalmologist, but it must be performed in a timely manner and does not always return vision to normal levels. Treatment for diabetic retinopathy requires a different type of laser than the ones used for refractive eye surgery.
Another potential surgical option for diabetic retinopathy is an injection of a steroid by a surgeon in order to stabilize the damaging effects. There are now new medications which can be injected in the eyeball that can prevent the growth of the abnormal blood vessels seen in diabetic retinopathy.
Typically, diabetes sufferers are not aware that they have diabetic retinopathy until there has already been significant damage done to the retina. The best method of prevention involves maintaining normal blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels. Regular eye exams can also help catch potential problems quickly.
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