By Judith Whitehead
Special to The News
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability, and even death, in the United States.
A staggering 1 in 10 Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, roughly 30 million people.
More concerning, another 84 million adults in the U.S. at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is noninsulin-dependent diabetes.
Those with diabetes should have an annual eye evaluation every year, or more if they have diabetic eye changes. A dilated eye evaluation can tell the doctor if the eye – or entire body for that matter – is suffering from uncontrolled diabetic damage.
Blood vessels can bleed in the back of the eye, the retina, and that can provide a window to the rest of the body’s health conditions. Diabetes can cause blindness, nerve damage and kidney disease, to name a few conditions.
An eye exam is one way to view the body’s circulation without invasive procedures, by simply dilating the eyes; it’s a simple way to keep on top of your health.
Diabetes needs to be taken seriously. Maintaining a healthy weight, complying with prescribed medication and regular exercise are important ways to control the blood sugar. Blood sugar needs to be monitored regularly by self-testing and/or a three-month blood test.
The hemoglobin A1C blood test is a number that represents a three-month average of what the blood sugar is doing in the body, and if it is controlled. The goal is to keep A1C at 6.0 or below; if the number creeps up to double digits – the body is in real trouble; stress and damage may be occurring to the body and its blood vessels.
Neuropathy or numbness in body appendages may occur with prolonged elevated sugars and damage is not always reversible.
Someone diagnosed with diabetes at a young age may be diagnosed with Type 1 of the disease, which means lifelong control of blood sugars will be needed. Those with this type usually have to depend on Insulin products for tight control.
Those with either type must take it seriously. I have seen firsthand in the ophthalmology practice the severe damage that noncontrol of diabetes can cause to the body: visual decline and surgical removal of body parts with poor circulation among them.
Do not ignore controlling the blood sugar; it is vital for a long, healthy life.
Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.
Story topics: Judith Whitehead