Diabetes is a medical condition that affects the body’s ability to process blood sugar, also known as blood glucose. It causes damage to many parts of the body such as the eyes, kidneys, liver, and feet. Eye tests are critical in diabetics as they detect early signs of retinopathy that may show no symptoms at first. A foot examination once or twice a year (or preferably at every doctor’s visit) is also mandatory to find sores and poor circulation that could not be healing. Early detection of foot and eye problems in diabetes allows your doctor to prescribe proper treatment when it is most effective.
What Is Diabetes?
Your body produces a hormone called insulin that is essential for many tasks. One of major functions of insulin is to move sugar from the blood into the cells to store or use for energy. When you develop diabetes, your body either cannot produce enough insulin or will fail to utilize the insulin produced by the pancreas effectively.
The different types of diabetes are:
● Type I Diabetes: It is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the pancreas that produces insulin.
● Type II Diabetes: In type II diabetes, the celles of your body are not able to respond to insulin as well as they should. In the later stages of the disease, your body may also not produce enough insulin.
● Gestational Diabetes: It occurs in pregnant women. Generally, various hormones work to keep your blood sugar levels in check. But during pregnancy, hormone levels change, making it harder for your body to process blood sugar efficiently. This makes your blood sugar rise.
● Prediabetes: It occurs when your blood sugar is higher than it should be, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
If you have diabetes, it is recommended you get a regular checkup done to ensure there are no health-related diabetic problems.
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If left untreated, diabetes can cause several problems to your nerves, eyes, feet, kidneys, or other organs.
Why Does A Diabetic Require An Eye Test?
Diabetes affects many organs of the body, including the eyes. The main concern for eye health in diabetics is the development of a condition called diabetic retinopathy. It develops when the blood vessels in the retina get damaged. The retina is a light-sensitive part present at the back of your eye.
The damage may cause the blood vessels to thicken, close off, develop clots, leak, or grow microaneurysms. In some cases, fluid may get accumulated in the part of the retina that is used to perform essential tasks such as reading. This condition is called macular edema.
In severe cases, the retina loses its blood supply and grows new, but defective blood vessels. The condition is known as neovascularization. These vessels can scar the tissue, bleed, create vision-impairing hemorrhages, or separate the retina from the back of the eye, known as retinal detachment. If the damage worsens, you may lose your vision.
The longer you live with diabetes, the higher are your risks of developing diabetic retinopathy.
For the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, the doctor will perform an eye test after dilating the eyes . Dilation of the eyes helps the doctor to check the inside of your eyes clearly.
While your eyes are still dilated, the doctor may conduct two more diagnostic eye tests for better results:
● Optical Coherence Tomography
This test helps provide detailed images of your eyes. The doctor will take the pictures of your eyes from different angles so that even the finest of details are visible. The images will help the doctor understand if any of the blood vessels have been damaged.
● Fluorescein Angiography
With your eyes dilated, the doctor will take images of the inside of your eyes. Then, the doctor will inject a dye into your arm that will help identify the damaged blood vessels in your eyes.
These exams can help determine the damage caused to your eyes due to diabetes. The treatment for the damage is often successful. The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are not usually visible. This is why it is essential to get regular eye tests to rule out any possibilities of eye-related conditions . The treatment options available for diabetic retinopathy may provide some relief, but you will need regular eye tests to keep a check on the eye problems.
Why Is A Foot Test Necessary For A Diabetic?
Diabetics have an increased risk of developing foot related-health problems. A foot exam is carried out to check for such problems. The most common types of diabetic foot problems include poor blood circulation to the foot and damage to the nerves, known as neuropathy.
Neuropathy can make your feet tingly or numb. In some cases, you may even lose sensation in your feet. If this happens, you may even develop injuries, blisters, calluses, deep sores like ulcers, and not feel them.
Poor blood circulation to the foot can make it difficult for you to fight and heal from infections. Your diabetes can make it difficult for your wounds and injuries to heal. It may lead to infections, which can worsen quickly.
Foot conditions in people suffering from diabetes range from mild to severe. The best defense for the treatment of foot conditions is prevention; however, this may not always be possible.
To diagnose diabetes related foot complications , the doctor will carry out the following tests:
● The doctor will inspect your skin for problems such as itchiness, dryness, blisters, ulcers, or calluses. The doctor will also check for fungal infections between the toes and toenails.
● Neurological Tests
It includes a series of tests such as:
● Monofilament Test: The doctor will run a soft nylon brush over your foot to check for sensitivity .
● Pinprick Test: The doctor will use a pin and gently poke the bottom of your foot to see if you can feel it.
● Ankle Reflexes: The doctor will use a small mallet and tap it on your foot to check for reflexes.
● Tuning Fork And Visual Perception Test: For this test, the doctor will place a tuning fork against your foot to see if you can feel the vibration produced by it.
● Musculoskeletal Test
The doctor will check for deformities in the structure and shape of your foot.
● Vascular Test
This test will be conducted to check if you have poor circulation to your foot. The doctor will use an imaging ultrasound to check the blood flow in the foot.
If your foot conditions are diagnosed and treated early, you may require fewer invasive treatments. Severe foot conditions such as ulcers and bone deformity can be treated fully if diagnosed in the initial stages.
In the case of foot ulcers, the doctor may even prescribe specialized shoes or braces for treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be required. The surgeon will clean out the affected area and even remove affected parts . The recovery after the surgical procedure may take several weeks or months.
To avoid diabetic foot conditions, you can practice self-management techniques . These include:
● Conducting a daily foot exam
● Monitoring blood glucose levels regularly
● Maintaining a healthy diet
● Exercising regularly
● Taking prescribed medications regularly
Foot conditions during diabetes can get severe if left untreated. This is why it is essential to get regular foot checks to look for circulation problems and nerve damage. If you have diabetes and notice any changes in your foot, immediately seek medical assistance. If diagnosed early, you can have a better recovery rate and may not require aggressive treatment options.
As diabetes affects many organs of the body, it is essential you get eye and foot tests done regularly. It will help determine if your diabetes has affected your eyes or feet. An early diagnosis and treatment may help treat diabetic problems such as diabetic retinopathy or neuropathy.
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