Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Some people may not even realize they have had diabetes mellitus for several years until they begin to experience problems with their eyes or vision. Severe diabetic eye disease most commonly develops in people who have had diabetes mellitus for many years
and who have had little or poor control of their blood sugars over that period of time.
Diabetes mellitus may also result in heart disease, stroke,
kidney failure, and circulatory abnormalities of the legs.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that 20 million people in the United States have diabetes. One-third of this population is unaware of their illness. A recent change in the exact definitions of diabetes and
"pre-diabetes" by an international expert committee leads to the estimate that an additional 41 million people in the United States (40% of adults aged 40-74 years) have "pre-diabetes," a condition that significantly increases their risk for developing diabetes.
This new definition underscores the importance for everyone to take steps to help prevent the development of this disease.
Individuals can try to avoid the problems associated with diabetes mellitus, including those that affect the eyes, by taking appropriate care of
Maintain a normal weight
Watch your diet, especially limiting unhealthy types of fats and substituting complex carbohydrates for simple carbohydrates.
Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editors: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Diabetesis pretty easy to understand. The body needs glucose (or sugar) as a
power source for metabolism. Insulin, a molecule made in the pancreas, acts as a
key to open cell doors and allow glucose to enter cells from the bloodstream and
allow the necessary power generation to happen. In healthy people, the pancreas
can help regulate blood sugar levels and make certain that cells get the energy
source they need. In people with diabetes, the system doesn't work; either the
pancreas doesn't make any insulin, doesn't make enough insulin, or makes insulin
that isn't effective. This causes blood sugar levels to rise, cells to
malfunction, and the body to break down.
The treatment of diabetes is theoretically easy. Balance the glucose intake
in the diet with the amount of energy the body needs to do its chores, and then
add medications by mouth or insulin injections to make it all happen. Reality
isn't that easy, and for many people, poorly controlled diabetes leads to
problems years later. Small blood vessels start to become narrow and fragile.
Organs lose blood supply and begin to fail, slowly at first, but then
life-threatening events can occur.
circulation in the feet(sometimes requiring amputation), and
blindness are just
some of the effects of blood sugar levels that remain chronically too high.