An early diagnosis of this condition can help patients have a better quality of life.
Medical Advisor Hugo Ocampo Domínguez – Retina Specialist and Coordinator of the Diabetes Unit at the Cali Ophthalmology Clinic, S.A.
The message is clear, “You shouldn’t wait to become diabetic to take preventative measures against this disease,” explains the Retina Specialist at the Cali Ophthalmology Clinic, Hugo Ocampo. This is why it is important for everyone to be aware of the importance of leading a healthy and nutritious diet, exercising, and getting regular medical checkups that include eye exams. Making these routine exams a priority can help prevent many conditions from developing over time, or can at least keep them under control through early treatment.
With the objective of improving the quality of life of its members and families, Coomeva Private Healthcare uses a diabetes risk management program to guide patients and encourage them to reduce their risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity and a poor diet. The idea of this program is to achieve a better quality of life.
“The problem with diabetes is that it is a disease that attacks several organs: the heart, the brain, the kidneys and mainly the eyes. When there is too much sugar in the blood, small arteries called capillaries (responsible for nourishing the organs) are damaged in different ways, causing liquids to escape in areas where they are normally not found. With the eyes, when the liquid escapes, it causes the eye’s retina to thicken, a condition called a macular edema. The macula, which is the central part of the retina, loses its function when it thickens. The function of the macula is to produce clear images for the activities of everyday life (reading, seeing colors, calculating distances, etc.). The retina is the only part of the eye that to this date, technology has not been able to replace or transplant. “That means that if the damage progresses a lot and becomes chronic, it can be irreparable,” says the professional. The recommendation is to visit your ophthalmologist at least once a year; however, with certain diseases such as diabetes, more frequent checkups may be necessary to avoid vision damage caused by this diagnosis, which is sometimes determined through an eye exam.
“We have to start changing our mentality so that as a society, we all understand that prevention is a worthwhile effort,” he adds. The following highlights the pillars of the diabetes risk management program for each person to include in their day to day lives.
All people need a yearly eye exam to detect whether they have a problem. Many adults, however, need more than one exam or will always need to get their pupils dilated. This exam is important because some diseases may not provide warning signs, which help to detect diseases at their initial stages when they are easier to treat. Just as important as it is to go see a professional, so should establishing the habit of conducting a daily self-check.
Food provides the energy and nutrients a person needs to be healthy: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. The key to healthy eating consists of consuming a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits and whole grain food products: lean meats, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products. Salt intake should also be reduced in addition to sugar, alcohol, and saturated and trans fats. It is important to get an assessment from a nutritionist.
Regular exercise and physical activity help keep weight under control, reduce the risk of heart disease, and control blood sugar levels and insulin in the body. These activities also improve mental health and mood and preserve your thinking, learning and judgment skills as you get older. They also strengthen the bones and muscles, reduce the risk of some types of cancer, reduce falls, help people get good sleep and increase the chances of living longer.
How to perform an eye self-check at home
- Every day, at the same time and place, cover one eye with the help of your hand without pressing on it.
- With the uncovered eye, focus on a straight line (the edge of a picture frame or the space between a tile) for a few seconds and verify that it actually looks straight.
- At the same time, keeping your eyes on the line, check the peripheral field of your vision. Repeat the same process with the eye that was covered.
- When a person notices that the straight line is distorted or there is a loss of the peripheral visual field, an ophthalmologist should be seen. The recommendation is to do this exercise one minute a day, as it can detect eye problems and allow for early treatment.