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Dr. Kayla Bechthold Blog: November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Since early last year all of us have been changing the way we do things. We have been staying home more, social distancing, wearing masks, and even putting off doctor appointments.

Understandable, but some things need to be taken care of. If you are diabetic, taking care of your diabetes is one of the things that will not wait.

Seeing and checking in with your physician who monitors your diabetes, your diabetic educator, and other medical specialties that take care of your diabetes are so important for your health. A yearly eye exam is included in this list.

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2015, and now is the eighth leading cause of death (during COVID-19). The incidence of new diabetes is more than 4,000 cases per day.

Diabetics have a 60 percent increased risk for cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens inside the eye, which makes distance vision blurry and night driving difficult. Usual treatment is cataract surgery.

Diabetics have a 40% increased risk for glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when the pressure inside the eye causes damage to the nerve tissue of the retina, resulting in decreased peripheral, then central vision. Usual treatments are eye drops or surgery.

Twenty eight percent of adults over age 40 with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy results from leaking blood vessels. In diabetics the connections between the cells in the walls of the blood vessels don’t adhere together as they should. Because of this, protein, fluid, and even blood can leak out of the vessels. This causes damage to the underlying tissue and damages the tissue that was supposed to fed by the blood that leaked out of the vessels. This causes blurred vision and even blindness if not treated promptly. Usual treatments are injections or laser.

Diabetes does not make one more likely to get COVID-19, but the sickness tends to be worse in patients who have diabetes. COVID-19 has put extra stress on everyone, diabetics included. Stress and lack of routine care make it more difficult to maintain blood sugars.

Currently routine eye care is safe, and eye care professionals are making every effort to keep us all safe. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people ages 20-60. If you are diabetic, please make sure you have your eyes checked yearly, or more often if you have eye issues from your diabetes. If you put off your diabetic eye exam until COVID is no longer an issue, you may be waiting a long time. Call us today to schedule an eye exam and let us know of any safety concerns you may have. November is diabetes awareness month, the perfect time to get caught up on your diabetes health care.


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