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NorthShore uses technology to prevent blindness from diabetes

2013-11-03T15:37:00Z NorthShore uses technology to prevent blindness from diabetes nwitimes.com
November 03, 2013 3:37 pm

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and experts in the NorthShore Health Centers are using the state-of-the art technology combined with personal care to create individualized programs for diabetic patients.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body cannot properly metabolize glucose inside the cells to use for energy, says Dana Jones, RN, clinical manager at NorthShore Health Centers. It is caused by the inability to produce enough insulin, or the production of ineffective insulin.

“The end result is that the glucose levels remain in the bloodstream, causing the increased glucose, or high blood sugar,” she says.

Early diagnosis and treatment is important because it can help prevent severe complications caused by the disease. Consistently high blood glucose levels can cause serious disease of the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. This can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, amputation of limbs, blindness, kidney failure, digestive problems, leg pain and poor wound healing or infections.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by auto-immune reactions in which the body’s defense system attacks its own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This leads to either no insulin production or a decrease in production. The cause of Type 1 diabetes is not fully understood, but is usually first seen during childhood or early adulthood. This type of diabetes requires a lifetime use of insulin. 

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In Type 2 diabetics, the body produces insulin, but it is either defective or the body doesn’t respond to the insulin’s effects. Type 2 diabetics can go undiagnosed for a long period of time until symptoms of complications are present. 

This type of diabetes usually doesn’t require daily insulin use, but it might be needed along with oral medication to control blood sugar levels. 

Once diagnosed, patients work with their healthcare professionals to treat the disease. Some treatment options include changing dietary habits to control the consumption of foods which cause blood glucose levels to elevate. Other recommended treatment options include exercise, oral medication and insulin injections.

“High blood sugar levels over time damage tissues, nerves and blood vessels, leading to serious health conditions and complications,” Jones says. “The earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the earlier blood sugar levels can be controlled, preventing further damage to the body.”

NorthShore Health Center offers diabetic group sessions, in which diabetics learn the tools of managing their disease and the importance of keeping blood glucose levels controlled. 

Diabetics are educated about the disease and discuss topics including diet, exercise, medication regimen and management.

“By managing their disease, patients feel more empowered to take charge of their health and have better health outcomes,” she says.

Upcoming sessions of the Diabetic Education Groups are at 1 p.m. on October 31, November 22 and December 20 at the NorthShore Health Center in Lake Station. 

Each participant will get healthy snacks, a free pedometer and free exercise stretch band.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 219.763.8112 or visit northshorehealth.org.

Diabetics can face a host of health problems and complications, including blindness, because of the disease’s effect on the body. When the disease affects the retina, it can cause blindness. 

Diabetics are recommended to have an annual retinal eye exam, and NorthShore Health Centers now is capable of evaluating retinal disease through the EyePACS exam.

Early detection and treatment of retinopathy can reduce vision loss by 90 percent.

Any diabetic due for their annual exam qualify to have the eye exam performed, Jones says.

During the eye exam, photographs are taken of the retina of each eye to evaluate retinal disease. 

“Diabetics no longer need to be referred to an ophthalmologist for this exam, which makes it easier, more convenient and cost effective,” Jones says. 

For more information or to make an appointment, call 219.763.8112 or go to northshorehealth.org.

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