Diabetes Awareness Month
By James Wymore, MD, Eye Surgeons Associates
number of people diagnosed with diabetes has exploded over the past
decade, due to modern lifestyles and more stringent definitions of what
is considered diabetes. High blood sugar from diabetes affects the
entire body, including the eyes. If severe enough, eye doctors may see
areas of bleeding or swelling in the retinas of the eyes, which is
termed diabetic retinopathy.
The purpose of regularly checking the
eyes of diabetics is not only to catch eye disease before it becomes
severe, but also as a gauge for the family physician or endocrinologist
to help determine how well the diabetes is being controlled in general.
It is another “tool” in his or her arsenal.
When a person visits our
practice, we send a note on the status of the eyes to the regular
doctor. If there is minimal or no diabetic retinopathy, it may be
reported as stable, and the person returns once yearly at a minimum. If
we see significant or worsening retinopathy, we alert the family doctor,
and he or she will work to control blood sugar, blood pressure, and/or
serum lipids more strictly. These actions will sometimes reverse or
stabilize the retinopathy, and prevent the need for laser surgery or
other therapy for the eyes. Retinopathy reflects, to a certain extent,
how much effect the diabetes has had on the rest of the body; so better
control may help other organ systems as well.
Treatments with lasers
and new medications have been a tremendous aid in trying to prevent
vision loss. It is distinctly better for the eyes, though, if the need
never arises. The same usually holds true for the rest of the body. To
reduce your chances of requiring intervention for either eye or general
health problems, have your eyes checked at least yearly and make sure
your eye doctor is communicating those results to your family doctor.
Wymore, with Eye Surgeons Associates, is a board-certified general
ophthalmologist. He is a member of the American Academy of
Ophthalmology. Dr. Wymore practices at our offices in Rock Island and
Silvis, Illinois. For more information, please see our website: