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Keeping an eye on diabetes risks Special

By Tim Sandle     Dec 1, 2014 in Health
Toronto - The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) recently reminded people of the importance of routine eye exams. This is because diabetes can have a significant impact on eye health.
Most people are aware of the challenges related to insulin and high blood sugar. However, not everyone is as aware of the damaging effects that diabetes can have on their vision and eye health. As part of the recent National Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada, the CAO has helped to raise awareness of the risks to eyes associated with the disease. Digital Journal found out more about the campaign from Dr. Paul Geneau, CAO President.
Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience polyuria (frequent urination), they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia) and hungry (polyphagia).
As part of the recent campaign, Canadian doctors of optometry joined the Canadian Diabetes Association in asking Canadians to “Take the CANRISK Test.” The test assesses the danger of developing the disease, outlines risk factors and offers suggestions to help prevent or delay its development and complications.
In relation to vision, diabetes can affect many parts of the eye, but the biggest threat to vision is when it begins to cause a weakening or swelling in the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. This condition- diabetic retinopathy, is the most common cause of blindness in people under the age of 65.
With this, Dr. Paul Geneau notes: “Early detection is crucial, as treatment is more likely to be successful at an early stage.”
He went onto explain that some symptoms that may occur at the onset of retinopathy are blurred vision, flashes of light in the field of vision and sudden loss of vision or blotches or spots in vision. However, he adds, “there may be no symptoms at all in its early stages, making the importance of regular visits with an optometrist so important.”
To assist readers, Dr. Geneau provides the steps the people can take to catch and prevent the progression of diabetic retinopathy and other dangerous changes in your eyes. These are:
See an optometrist for a thorough eye examination at least once a year to monitor changes in your eyes.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, continue to see a see an optometrist annually and more frequently if recommended
See your physician regularly and follow instructions about diet, exercise and medication
Maintain optimal blood glucose levels, blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
Be aware of the factors that increase your risk such as smoking, high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and pregnancy.
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