More than eight million people in the United States are unknowingly living with diabetes, and nearly eighty-six million are pre-diabetic. November is National Diabetes Month. Do you know your risk for diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic illness that must be consistently managed, as it can lead to further health complications. One very common health complication associated with diabetes is eye disorders.
People with diabetes do have a higher risk of blindness than those without diabetes. However, most diabetics have nothing more than minor eye disorders. Regular checkups can allow you to keep those minor eye problems minor. If major eye problems did develop, treatments tend to work best if you start them right away.
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics are 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma than people without diabetes. "Glaucoma is an increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that may lead to vision loss," says North Georgia Eye Care’s Daniel Ahn, MD. "That risk increases with age. The longer someone has had diabetes, the more common glaucoma."
Many people without diabetes get cataracts, but diabetics are 60 percent more likely to develop them. "With cataracts, the eye's clear lens clouds, blocking light," Ahn says. "People with diabetes also tend to get cataracts at a younger age with a faster progression."
If you have diabetes, you can take three important steps to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease:
1. Watch and control your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels
2. Take care of yourself
3. See an eye doctor at least once per year
In addition to eye complications associated with diabetes, gestational diabetes is very common in women. Around the 24th week of pregnancy, many women develop gestational diabetes. According to a 2014 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of gestational diabetes is as high as 9.2 percent.
"Having gestational diabetes does not mean the woman was diabetic before or will continue to be after her pregnancy," says Northwest Georgia OB/GYN’s Joy Nwadike, MD. "However, it is important for women to maintain their blood glucose level in a healthy range both before and during pregnancy. Treatment includes special meal plans and scheduled physical activity and may also include daily blood glucose testing, and insulin injections."
It is very important to consult with your physician during your pregnancy if you are diabetic or have gestational diabetes. Untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can hurt your baby.
Diabetes is a common disease that affects millions of Americans daily. It is important for those with diabetes to not only keep their blood glucose levels in check, but to balance your diet, medicine (if prescribed), and exercise. Managing the disease can help prevent or delay complications, allowing you to live a healthy life.
When managing diabetes, a skilled healthcare team is essential. Finding the right set of health professionals will help you with your management of diabetes. Some key players in your healthcare team are:
• A primary care provider
• Nurse educator
• Registered dietician
• Eye doctor