Diabetes is a disease where the body is unable to produce insulin or when the body does not use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that your body needs to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 25 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
When a person has diabetes, they also have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, or blindness. There is no known cure for diabetes, but there is treatment. Some of the signs of diabetes can include excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased tiredness, increased irritability and blurry vision. Sometimes family history plays a part in whether a person develops diabetes, but other factors such as being over weight or lack of exercise appear to play a role as well. Diet, exercise and new medicines can prevent or delay much of the illness and complications of diabetes.
Remember to keep an eye on your eyes. In the United States, diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of vision loss among working-age adults. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common form of this disease, and affects about 28.5 percent of Americans with diabetes age 40 and older.
The condition can creep up quietly. It gradually weakens small blood vessels in and around the retina, the light-sensing layer of tissue at the back of the eye. If the disease progresses, these vessels may rupture and leak blood into the eye; they can also spread and grow on the surface of the retina and cause scarring.
The good news is that with early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up, the risk of severe vision loss from diabetic retinopathy can be reduced by 95 percent. A comprehensive dilated eye exam can catch diabetic eye disease early, before symptoms appear.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. If you have diabetes, it’s a good time to remember these health tips:
Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.
Control your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. By controlling your diabetes, you’ll reduce your risk of diabetic eye disease.
Talk to your eye care professional about diabetic retinopathy.
Hendry Regional Medical Center offers monthly diabetes education and prevention classes. For more information call 983-1123 Angelica Pena or Sherry Hooker.
To learn more about your risk of diabetes, visit http://www.cdc.gov/Features/DiabetesAlert/