Diabetes awareness, prevention and management

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November 20, 2014 9:05 AM

It’s Diabetes Awareness Month and the Alberta Association of Optometrists is partnering with the Canadian Diabetes Association to bring awareness to Lloydminster.

One of the main organs affected by the disease are the eyes, so regular check ups with you optometrist can help detect early warning signs.

“There are initially some people who are not diagnosed yet with diabetes, they’ll have major vision fluctuations,” said Jade Ulmer, a local optometrist. “So one day they will be able to see 20/20, then if their blood sugars are rising, unbeknownst to themselves, they’ll start to see quite poorly.”

When left unchecked there comes a serious risk of diabetic retinopathy, a disorder characterized by bleeding in the back of the eyes.

“Lots of times you can have pretty bad bleeding in the back of the eye and still see a really great 20/20,” said Ulmer. “So that’s a reason they want diabetics to get their routine yearly check-ups, is to make sure that the back of the eye is looking really good.”

Debra Jakubec, regional director at the Canadian Diabetes Association, said there are measures to help prevent diabetes and ways to manage it once diagnosed. Exercise, diet and regular check-ups are a good way to start.

“Exercise and watch your diet. If you lose 10 per cent of your body weight, if you’re overweight, can reduce your rate of diabetes by 60 per cent,” she said.

“So keeping a more slender figure, eating three square meals a day is very important.”

She said diabetics are three times more likely to be hospitalized with cardiovascular disease and 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with end stage renal disease, but if people can self-manage their diabetes they tend to have less complications.

“Basically, keep your blood sugar in check and see your doctor routinely as well,” said Ulmer. “And just keep everything as good as you possibly can.”

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