Diabetes and Eye Exams
Diabetes affects more that 2 million people in Texas and over 400,000 in Oklahoma, these numbers keep rising daily. Being told you have diabetes may be unsettling, but with the right help, it's a very manageable illness. The physicians at Tapia Internal Medicine Clinic, PLLC can help you manage your diabetes.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes (sometimes called type 2 “diabetes mellitus”) is a disorder that disrupts the way your body uses sugar. All the cells in your body need sugar to work normally. Sugar gets into the cells with the help of a hormone called insulin. If there is not enough insulin, or if the body stops responding to insulin, sugar builds up in the blood. That's what happens to people with diabetes.
There are 2 different types of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the problem is that the body makes little or no insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the problem is that:
- The body's cells do not respond to insulin
- The body does not make enough insulin
- Or both
What are symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes usually cause no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they include:
- Needing to urinate often
- Intense thirst
- Blurry vision
If type 2 diabetes rarely cause symptoms, why should I care about it?
Even though type 2 diabetes might not make you feel sick, it can cause serious problems over time if it's not treated such as:
- Heart attacks
- Kidney disease
- Vision problems (or even blindness)
- Pain or loss of feeling in the hands and feet
- The need to have fingers, toes or other body parts removed (amputated)
How do I know if I have type 2 diabetes?
To find out if you have type 2 diabetes, your physician can do a blood test to measure the amount of sugar in your blood.
How is type 2 diabetes treated?
There are a few medicines that help control blood sugar. Some people need to take pills that help the body make more insulin or that helps the insulin do its job. Others need insulin shots.
Depending on what medicines you take, you might need to check your blood sugar regularly at home. But not everyone with type 2 diabetes needs to do this. Your doctor will tell you if you should be checking your blood sugar, and when and how to do this.
Medicines are not the only tool to manage diabetes. Being active, losing weight, eating right and not smoking can all help people with diabetes stay as healthy as possible.
Can type 2 diabetes be prevented?
Yes, it can. To reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, the most important thing you can do is control your weight. If you already have the disorder, losing weight can improve your health and blood sugar control. Being active can also help prevent or control the disorder.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye problem that can lead to vision loss and even blindness. It affects people with diabetes. It is most common in people who do not control their blood sugar well.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
Most people with diabetic retinopathy have no symptoms until the disease is very advanced. By then, it's usually too late to do anything about the vision loss. That's why it is important to get screened for the condition early. That way doctors can take steps to protect your eyes before your vision is damaged.
Things to watch for:
- Blurry vision
- Dark or floating spots
- Trouble seeing things that are at the center of your focus when reading or driving
- Trouble telling colors apart
Is there a test for diabetic retinopathy?
Yes, here at Tapia Internal Medicine Clinic, PLLC the physicians preform a diabetic eye exam. This includes the physician giving you eye drops to make your pupils open up. (The drops make it easier for the doctor to see the different parts of the inside of your eye.) After the drops have done their job, the doctor will take pictures of the eye with a special camera. If the pictures look normal then they will recheck the eyes in a year. If the pictures look abnormal, the patient is notified and a referral to an eye doctor will be created for further examination.
How is diabetic retinopathy treated?
When mild, diabetic retinopathy is not always treated. But people with the condition do need to keep their blood sugar and blood pressure levels as close to normal as possible. This will help the condition from becoming worse.
Treatments for diabetic retinopathy can include:
- Photocoagulation- This is laser surgery to seal or destroy leaking or growing blood vessels in the retina.
- Vitrectomy- This is surgery to remove blood from the part of the eye called the “vitreous humor”. Doctors do this in surgery if the blood vessels in the retina leak into the vitreous humor.
- Medicines- Medicines that are injected into the vitreous humor are sometimes used along with photocoagulation or vitrectomy. Your eye doctor will let you know if this type of treatment will help you.
Can diabetic retinopathy be prevented?
Yes. If you have diabetes, you can reduce your chances of getting diabetic retinopathy by keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure level as close to normal as possible. It might also be important to keep cholesterol levels in the "normal" range.