November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and a perfect time to discuss why a diabetic’s lucky number is always #7.
People say that the eyes are the windows to the soul yet they are actually a window to your health. Many people are unaware how many health issues can be detected or diagnosed in an eye exam.
The eye has two unique properties. The first is that the tissue on the back of the eye, the retina, is the only place in the body where blood vessels can be seen without any obstruction of other tissue. By examining the appearance of these blood vessels, your optometrist can see damage from systemic disease happening to the eye and if it is happening to the eye then it is also happening to the blood vessels throughout the body.
I hope we find all of you in good health and good spirits. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Looking back at the late 80’s, students were trained to interpret a case history to determine what disease entities we should look for based on a patient’s race and age. For example, it you were middle aged and of Hispanic or American Indian descent, we would be concerned with diabetes, if you were of African American descent, we would be concerned with hypertension and glaucoma and so on. While this is not funny, consider it a medical form of racial profiling but it was clinically significant. Case histories are still important but the thinking has changed.
Diabetes is a disease that affects approximately 29 million or 9 % of the American population and is the 7th leading cause of death in this country. Of those affected Americans 15% to 20% will suffer some visual impairment due to the disease. Diabetic patients are 60% more likely to develop cataracts at an younger age and 40% more likely to be diagnosed with glaucoma - both of which can cause severe vision loss if left untreated. Because diabetes is largely treatable with diet and medication, we can reduce the likelihood of these side effects from occurring or at least delay their severity.