Category Archives: Complications

diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy: An Overview

The effects of diabetes are widespread, and this chronic disease can wreak havoc on virtually every part of the body. Many diabetics are prone to eye problems such as glaucoma and cataracts. However, the most crippling eye disorder involves the retina, a phenomenon known as diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy at a Glance

The retina is the tissue matter at the back of the eye which captures light sources and sends information to the brain. Retinopathy is used to define the damage inflicted upon the tiny capillaries that surround the retina. Individuals that have had diabetes for a significant amount of time are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy. It is estimated that approximately 50 percent of diagnosed diabetics have been affected to some extent by this retinal disorder. Both Type I and II diabetics are at risk for developing retinopathy.

Chances of diabetic retinopathy increase with the following:

  • If you are of African-American or Hispanic origin
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are pregnant
  • Have diabetes with uncontrolled glucose levels

When first afflicted by retinopathy, diabetics usually only experience slight changes in vision. This debilitating disorder can even progress without any noted changes in vision. However, as the condition progresses, significant eye problems can occur.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty seeing at nighttime
  • Floating “spiders” that obstruct vision
  • Problems adjusting to changes in light

All diabetes patients should have a comprehensive eye exam with a retinopathy specialist every year to check for any precursors to the condition. Also, if you are pregnant, an eye exam should be administered immediately and then throughout your pregnancy.

Diabetic retinopathy generally occurs in two separate types: proliferative and nonproliferative.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR)

The more advanced of the two forms, proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) occurs when abnormal capillaries grow in the optic disc or the retina. The blood vessels can also project into the clear substance that composes the center of the eye, the vitreous. Proliferative retinopathy can result in loss of both central and peripheral vision.

Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)

Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) occurs in the early stages of the disease. The most common type of retinopathy, there are either no or extremely mild symptoms in NPDR. The process of nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy begins when the retinal capillary walls weaken. “Outpouchings,” or small protrusions known as microaneurysms stick out from the walls of the retinal blood vessels. If the microaneurysms start to leak, blood and fluid seep into the retina. Severe NPDR can result in a disorder called diabetic macular edema, the swelling of the center portion of the retina, the macula. A dysfunction in the macula can cause an obstruction in your central vision.

Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetics with nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy usually do not require immediate treatment, but it is recommended that your physician keep a check on the progress of the retina. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy, however, will require surgical treatment as soon as possible. The two treatments commonly used for diabetic retinopathy are photo coagulation and vitrectomy. It must be addressed that these treatments are in no way a cure for retinopathy; they only can slow down or assist in halting the progression of the condition. Laser treatment or photo coagulation stops the leakage of blood and fluid in the retina. This is turn slows the advancement of retinopathy, and likelihood of loss of vision. In this process, a laser will attempt to seal leakage by producing tiny burns in the sections with abnormal capillaries. Photo coagulation can be performed in either a physician’s office or an outpatient surgical unit. The goal of a vitrectomy is to remove the blood and fluid engorged vitreous. The procedure begins when sections of tissue are cut and extracted from the eye. A salt solution replaces the portions that were removed, so that the pressure and shape of the eye return to normal. Recovery from vitrectomy is significantly longer than with laser treatment, and can take several weeks.

water retention and diabetes

Water Retention

Water retention, also known as Edema, is caused by a few different reasons and is common in those who have diabetes. It might be from a mild illness or condition. Other times when someone has water retention it could mean something more serious is happening in the body.

Water retention is common in:

  • Ankles
  • Feet
  • Wrists
  • Arms

It is best to see a Doctor to make sure the cause of the water retention is not serious and that it can be cured.

Diseases in the Kidneys, Liver, and Heart are known for expressing water. People who have Diabetes and take Thiazolidinediones medications are also known to have water retention. Thiazolidinediones are commonly used to treat Type 2 Diabetes. It helps the body produce more insulin.

Thiazolidinediones can cause:

  • Weight gain
  • Edema (Swelling)

These symptoms usually go away after a few weeks of taking the treatment.

There are three types of Edema that are associated with Diabetes.

Macular Edema

Macular Edema is one of the types. It consists of swelling in the macular which is near the retina’s center. This is the area that helps a person be able to read. It is also responsible for daytime vision and color reception. Diabetic Retinopathy caused Macular Edema is a complication caused by Diabetes. It starts by the leaking of fluid from blood vessels into the macula. Eventually this can cause the person to go blind.

Pulmonary Edema

Pulmonary Edema is the second type. This happens if someone is using certain Diabetic medications and also if the person has cardiovascular problems. Treating this type of Edema consists of inserting a catheter which drains the fluids.

Foot and Leg Edema

Foot and Leg Edema is also a type that is experienced. This type of Edema can cause a high risk of non-healing wounds with someone who has Diabetes. Treatment for this type usually is with manual decongestive therapy and diuretics.

Treating Edema

It is very important to prevent Edema from happening. If it goes untreated, it can lead to serious outcomes such as vision loss if you have Diabetic Retinopathy. The main way to stop the Edema is by ceasing the source. Diabetes will not go away, but it can be controlled and taken care of. If you have Diabetes and notice swelling it may be linked to the medication you take so be sure to let your endocrinologist know right away. It can be fixed as simple as changing your medication. Having screenings routinely done will help detect if there is a serious problem before it is full blown.

Once you have knowledge of Edema it will prepare you. When your ankle or leg is swollen you should understand why it is happening and what you can do to solve the problem. It may be as simple as propping your leg high. Understanding what you can do to fix the issue will make your life easier. If water retention continues to happen for you, discussing this issue with your Doctor will help. The Doctor is knowledgeable with Diabetes and how it can cause this to happen. Being screened and aware will keep you from having water retention and other serious effects from it. Always keep your blood sugars under tight control and get exercise as this will help the overall problem and keep you in better shape.

Diabetes and Diarrhea

Diabetes and Diarrhea

Diabetic Diarrhea

Diabetes and diarrhea is actually common. Diarrhea can be caused by problems in the bowel or colon and has been noted in patients who have had diabetes for many years. As many as 22 percent of diabetic patients with longstanding diabetes have reported the occurrence of “diabetic diarrhea.”

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