Prevent your eyes from diabetic complications | By Janhanzeb Durrani, Prof Inamul Haq


Prevent your eyes from diabetic complications

DIABETES, if not cared and treated in time, increases the risk of developing visual complications. It damages the tiny blood vessels of retina, the most photo-sensitive and vulnerable layer at the back of the eye. It receives and transmits the images to the brain via the optic nerve to complete the visual process. The central area of retina is scientifically known as Macula, responsible for finer vision like reading, writing and discriminating minute expressions of everything we see, the diabetic change in the retina is known as diabetic retinopathy. Hence, the diabetics have to take special eye care in controlling the blood sugar equally important for the family members to help the diabetic. They should fully understand and be aware of the complications of diabetes and help the patient for intake of proper diabetic diet along with scheduled medication well in time. The patient should also understand to strictly follow his prescribed pattern of diet and not to eat everything blindly like other normal family members. Diabetics should also be extremely careful for his diet while attending the functions and marriages. The best course is to eat moderately if over weight.

Usual symptoms are any sudden change in your vision like cloudiness, constant redness, double vision, flashing of lights, rings around lights and floaters in the visual fields. In fact, people with diabetes are twice likely to develop cataracts (Sufaid Motia) in the eyes which may be complicated with Glaucoma (Kala Motia) if diabetes remains uncontrolled for longer period. Basically, the diabetes is a disease of small blood vessels, hence diabetics are more prone to suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension) which may further damage the sensitive layer of retina and the optic nerve, especially in the younger age group.

All diabetics should practice moderate exercise regularly and proper sleep according to the age; (adults and seniors minimum 7-8 hours daily), preferably they should take short napsin the afternoon. If he is engaged in some office-work or a business, always avoid fatigue, this will disturb the control of blood sugar as well as blood pressure. Observe regularity in treatment and we assure you that you will live a healthy normal life like non-diabetics. Minor carelessness may disturb the blood sugar, balance it with your next intakes. Similarly, patients must be careful in using sweets, candies, drinks and desserts; On the contrary encourage to take vegetables, cereals and lean meat. If a person suffers from type 1 diabetes he/she should schedule an eye exam with an eye specialist earlier or as advised by your doctor and if the patient suffers from type 2 diabetes, one should see his physician as soon it is diagnosed regardless of any age. Most of the visual complication from Diabetes takes about 5 to 10 Years to develop, but that doesn’t mean your vision is safe during this period. Hence it is necessary to get eye examined regularly before the appearance of complications. It develops earlier at a younger age and progresses faster in adults. Therefore, maintaining a strict control of blood sugar, will delay the development of cataract. Diabetes can also cause eye muscle paralysis, responsible for double vision. (diplopia),which may cautious to permanent visual disability. However, busy life is not an excuse to take shortcuts with visual health.

Cataract surgery is the only choice of treatment, the lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens (intraocular lens – IOL) in its place). Pregnant women with gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of complications. Therefore, they should get their eye examined at the earliest with regularity during pregnancy and should use the correct eyesight glasses. Since the diabetes affects the body’s immune system, diabetics are more susceptible to eye infections easily. Therefore, wash your hands and eyes repeatedly and never touch the eyes unnecessarily. Sleep deprivation results in poor performance on the job, memory problems and mood disorders, which may contribute to the development of heart diseases, obesity, diabetes and dry eyes in the long run. Moreover, working on any digital device for too long hours makes the eyes tired and blurred vision, as people tend to blink much less while staring at digital screen. Remember! It is important to take frequent short breaks from computers. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends to follow the rule of 20-20-20, rest the eyes after every 20 minutes, use the device only for 20 minutes. Hence, monitor the HbA1C blood test (normally at 6.4), this will gives you an indication of your control during the last 3 months. For those who are interested in reading, it is advisable to use paper book reading in place of e-books and leave reading after every two chapters. Avoid using a computer outside or in brightly lit areas, because the glare of light will create strain and tiredness of eyes. Moreover, adjust the brightness and contrast of your computer screen according to your comfort. Always, sit in erect posture while using a computer or sitting on a chair for office work.

In summary, a healthy lifestyle is important for keeping the vision in healthy state. Exercising, taking proper diet and avoid smoking are the best principles from getting the risk of eye problem, such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma.

—The author is a serving Eye Specialist at Maroof International Hospital, Islamabad. Both are is keen observers of Eye Problems in the society, advising how to prevent them. Former is an Eye Specialist at Maroof Hospital, Islamabad while the latter is a practicing Eye Specialist at Sidpur Road Scheme1 Rawalpindi.