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COMMON EYE CONDITIONS
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Diabetes Mellitus            (dye-a-BEE-teez mah lye'tuss)


DIABETES is a disease in which the body is unable to produce and regulate insulin. Insulin is a chemical normally found in the blood and is needed to break down sugar in the bloodstream into a form that can be burned by a body in the form of energy. When there is not adequate insulin present the chemistry of the blood in the body is out of balance. When this happens, the health of the blood vessels begins to deteriorate. Soon the vessels begin to spring leaks. Blood and blood serum leeks into the surrounding tissue. When the defense system in the body tries to clean this mess up, more energy is needed, more blood is needed and more white blood cells are needed to go to work. Because the blood system is already having problems, the job is twice as hard to repair. At some point, when the clean up system is no longer able to keep up and the scar tissue has progressed to a point of no return, there begins a progressive shut down of the bodies systems.

TREATMENT:

The treatment for diabetes is fairly well understood. The best treatment is to reduce the demand on blood. That means losing weight. If there is less body weight to maintain, there is less need for the bodies natural supply of insulin. If weight control is not possible, then pills are used to assist in the lack of insulin. Ultimately, if none of these measures are holding the blood chemistry in check, then artificial Insulin is needed. Your doctor will help you carefully manage the insulin to achieve just the right balance to keep things as steady as possible. Remember this, the bad affects of diabetes increase faster the further into the disease one becomes. Therefore, it is extremely important to get proper control of the condition early on, while you still can.

DIABETIC COMPLICATIONS:

The complications of diabetes can affect many parts of the body, including the kidneys, liver, legs and eyes. As far as the eyes are concerned the complications may include changes in present vision conditions (nearsightedness and farsightedness), glaucoma, cataracts, strabismus, decrease in corneal sensitivity, and diabetic retinopathy. It is important that diabetics monitor and maintain control of their condition regularly. While it has been stated that diabetics should consult with a physician regularly to help with the management of the blood chemistry, they should also consult with an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist to evaluate their eyes for the presence of DIABETIC RETINOPATHY. Diabetic Retinopathy is the number two cause of blindness today, so a routine examination is a good policy. The examination of the back of the eye (retina) can yield important information. By looking through the eyes pupil, the back of the eye becomes the only place in the body, a doctor can look at the blood vessels and blood flow, without cutting into some tissue. For this reason the information which is derived is not only important for evaluating the presence of Diabetic Retinopathy, but also is information which is usually typical of the vascular condition in the rest of the body. For example, if there are small hemorrhages in the back of the eye, there are probably hemorrhages in the liver and kidneys, as well. That information can be very useful to your regular physician as part of the total package of data needed to make good decisions regarding your overall diabetic condition, and the best treatment program for you.

 

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