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A Peek at the Pump
A Peek at the Pump

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Online learning resources for diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and nutrition.
Diabetes 101: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels, and your diet.
Diabetes 201: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugars, and your diet.
Asthma 101: Learn more about asthma and dealing with shortness of breath.
Hypertension 101: Learn more about hypertension and managing your blood pressure.
Nutrition 101: Learn more about improving your nutrition and diet

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Lesson #5

Eye Problems

What are they?
The most common type of diabetic eye disease is called retinopathy. About half of all people who have had diabetes for ten years will develop this complication.

Retinopathy, caused by vascular problems, occurs when small blood vessels behind the retina begin to bulge and leak. New blood vessels begin to grow to replace those that are damaged. These additional blood vessels put pressure on the retina and can force it to detach. In some cases, damaged blood vessels may be unable to deliver enough oxygen, and areas of eye tissue may die.

Diabetic eye problems include bleeding, scarring, cataracts, glaucoma and even blindness.

How can you prevent it?
As with most diabetic complications, tight glucose control is the best way to prevent retinopathy. Regular eye exams can help your doctor diagnose any problems before they become too advanced. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone with diabetes undergo a yearly eye exam. Women who are pregnant should have eye exams every four to eight weeks.

If your doctor discovers that you have retinopathy, s/he may opt for a certain type of laser surgery to reduce the growth of the retinal blood vessels. Several surgical procedures may be necessary.

Kidney Problems

What are they?
The most common type of kidney problem, called nephropathy, develops in about 35 to 40 percent of people with type 1 diabetes. This condition is a result of hyperglycemia.

High blood glucose levels put stress on the kidneys. Over time, the kidneys begin to lose their filtering ability, and the blood vessels may begin to leak important nutrients such as protein from the blood into the urine. One symptom of these kidney problems is foamy urine.

Bacteria feeds on the glucose that is lost to the urine. Because of this, people with diabetes my develop urinary tract infections.

In later stages of this complication, the kidneys become unable to filter wastes, and toxic products such as creatinine remain flowing in the blood.

This condition may take a long time to develop, and its effects may not be felt for many years.

How can you prevent it?
It's the diabetic mantra, but it's important to remember: the best way to prevent this complication is to keep tight glucose levels. Routine urinalysis with a doctor can also determine if there is too much protein in the urine. Monitoring blood pressure can also help you identify the early signs of kidney disease.

Blood tests may also be conducted to pinpoint warning signs, such as creatinine in the blood.

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