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Covid Patients Are 40% More Likely to Get Diabetes – What Does That Mean for Your Vision?

Covid 19 Patient Sick in BedHave you had Covid-19? After your fever and cough have subsided, you may think the virus is behind you. However, even after your Covid test comes back negative, you may experience health problems in the near future, including diabetes.

Recent studies have found that a significant percentage of post-Covid-19 patients developed diabetes within a year of contracting the virus. This is particularly problematic, as diabetes raises the risk of developing many health problems, including several sight-threatening eye conditions that can rob people of their vision.

What Does the Research Show?

A March 2022 Lancet study that evaluated the records of 181,280 U.S. military veterans found a 40% higher risk of developing Type-2 diabetes in those who had Covid. Although those at greatest risk were over 65, African American and/or had underlying health conditions, many younger patients also developed Type 2 diabetes.

A study published in January 2022 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that children and teens under 18 were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis (both Type 1 and Type 2) at least 30 days after infection than those who never contracted Covid.

Scientists are investigating exactly why Covid-19 raises the risk of developing diabetes. In many cases, it’s believed that the virus targets pancreatic cells, which are responsible for making insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. A lack of insulin causes diabetes.

Some scientists also theorize that inactivity and weight gain due to lockdowns and quarantines may have raised the risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes-Related Conditions

Diabetes is linked to many eye conditions, including:

Blurry Vision – High blood sugar drives the lens inside your eye to swell, causing your vision to blur.

Cataracts – Diabetes can cause cataracts, cloudy patches that form in the lens of the eye.

Glaucoma – This disease develops from high pressure inside the eye and can lead to severe vision loss.

Diabetic Retinopathy – High blood sugar levels damage the small fragile blood vessels on the retina, leading to vision loss.

Maculopathy – Swelling of the macula, the center of the retina, can make it difficult to drive, read or see detail.

Some of these conditions have no noticeable symptoms during their early stages when it’s still possible to prevent or minimize vision loss. So having regular comprehensive eye exams is crucial.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes Post-Covid

Even after you’ve recovered from Covid, you may still be at a higher risk of developing diabetes. So, along with people who have a family history of the disease, make sure to book a comprehensive eye exam, eat a healthy and balanced diet, don’t smoke, maintain your appropriate weight, and ask your physician to monitor your blood sugar levels.

Also, if you have any eye symptoms, such as blurry vision, schedule an appointment with The Eye Disease Management Center at New Baltimore Optometry immediately. Remaining vigilant and aware of the risks can help safeguard your vision thanks to early intervention and treatment.

Are you concerned about the effect having Covid may have on your eyes? Schedule an appointment with The Eye Disease Management Center at New Baltimore Optometry today!

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

Q&A with Dr. Joseph Lawless

Q: What is a diabetic retinal eye exam?

A: A diabetic retinal [eye__exam] checks for diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the small thin blood vessels in the retina located at the back of the eye. Your optometrist will place eye drops into your eye to open your pupils so they can more easily see the back of your eye. They may take digital images to inspect blood vessels: these full-color 3D images show the cross-section of the retina and measure the retinal thickness to help your optometrist detect any fluid or blood leakage.

Q: How common is vision loss with diabetes?

A: People with diabetes are more likely to experience eye and vision problems. Among people over 45 diagnosed with diabetes, 17.6% experience some degree of vision loss.
– 9.2% is caused by cataracts
– 4.1% is caused by diabetic retinopathy
– 2.2% is caused by macular degeneration
– 2.1% is caused by glaucoma. Therefore, anyone diagnosed with or with risk factors for diabetes should have regular eye exams to protect their vision and eye health.

5 Need-to-Know Facts About Glaucoma

elderly couple sitting outside width=While most people have heard of glaucoma, many aren’t aware of how and why it can lead to vision loss and blindness, and why or how regular eye exams can help safeguard their vision. To get a better understanding, check out these 5 important facts.

Glaucoma Causes Permanent Vision Loss

Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness, affecting more than 1 in 50 adults. Nowadays, more than 80 million people around the world have glaucoma, with the number is expected to reach a staggering 111 million by 2040!

Vision loss is caused by abnormally high pressure within the eye which permanently damages the optic nerve that delivers the eye’s messages to the brain.

The rise in eye pressure results from the buildup of fluid in the eye that does not drain effectively out of the eye.

Though it’s possible to manage glaucoma symptoms, vision loss can’t be reversed once it’s occurred. That’s why it’s crucial to catch this serious eye condition in its early stages.

Half the People With Glaucoma Don’t Know They Have It

Yes, you read that correctly. One of the most worrying things about glaucoma is that half the people with this condition don’t even know they have it! The most common type — primary open-angle glaucoma — has no obvious symptoms in its early stages. It’s no wonder glaucoma is called the ‘Thief of Sight.’

The best way to avoid any vision loss from glaucoma is to have regular eye exams to detect the condition as soon as possible.

Some Are More At Risk for Glaucoma Than Others

The following are risk factors for glaucoma:

  • Being 60 or older
  • A family history – particularly of open-angle glaucoma
  • African, Asian or Hispanic descent
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Underactive Thyroid

Glaucoma Can Be Treated, Not Cured

There is no cure for glaucoma and vision that has already been lost to the condition can’t be restored. However, glaucoma can be treated, and the progression of the disease can be stopped or slowed.

Common treatments for glaucoma include:

  • Prescription eye drops that can lower pressure inside the eye
  • Oral medications, such as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
  • Laser therapy, such as SLT or trabeculoplasty, is used to open up channels to improve the drainage of fluid from the eye
  • Eye surgery or trabeculectomy – surgical removal of obstructions in the eye’s drainage system
  • Trabecular stent bypass – a stent is placed in the eye to make drainage easier

Only an Eye Exam Can Diagnose Glaucoma

As mentioned above, regular eye exams are essential to detect glaucoma, especially in the early stages before permanent vision loss has occurred. Your eye doctor may use several types of tests to detect glaucoma:

  • Tonometry – measurement of eye pressure
  • Visual field – tests for peripheral vision loss
  • Gonioscopy – determines if the drainage system is open.
  • Corneal thickness (pachymetry) – the thickness of the cornea can affect the eye pressure measurements
  • Optic Nerve Exam – detection of any nerve damage using digital imaging

Glaucoma is yet another good reason to get your eyes tested regularly, especially if you’re over 60. To check the health of your eyes, schedule a comprehensive eye exam at The Eye Disease Management Center at New Baltimore Optometry today.

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Joseph Lawless

Q: How much time does it take for glaucoma to cause blindness?

  • A: In most cases of open-angle glaucoma, it can take several years from the onset of the disease before significant vision loss occurs. However, in the case of closed-angle glaucoma, where the eye pressure rises suddenly, it can immediately cause severe vision loss. The speed of the onset of glaucoma depends on the type of glaucoma and eye pressure levels. The higher the pressure, the faster glaucoma can drive vision loss.

Q: How many people go blind from glaucoma?

  • A: Overall, the incidence of blindness in at least one eye from glaucoma is 26.5% after 10 years, and 38.1% after 20 years. This means that without effective treatment the chance of going blind in one eye is more than 1 in 4 in just 10 years.

References

Signs It’s Time For Cataract Surgery

Elderly Couple Discussing Cataract SurgeryCataract surgery, which replaces the cataract-affected lens of the eye with a new, clear artificial lens, is the most common surgical procedure in the world. While the procedure is considered safe and effective, patients want to know the optimal time to have the surgery.

Early Signs of Cataracts

During the earlier stages, individuals with cataracts experience cloudy vision and sensitivity to glare and light. Halos may appear around lit objects at night, and night vision may be impaired. Colors may appear washed out, such as bright red hues appearing dark pink.

Signs You Need Cataract Surgery

It’s common for people to live with cataracts for several years before considering surgery. The following are signs it is time to have your cataracts removed:

  • You find it difficult to see well enough to perform tasks at work
  • Your vision has gotten in the way of doing activities around the home, such as cooking and cleaning
  • You no longer see the television screen or printed material clearly
  • Driving, especially at night, no longer feels safe
  • Glare and bright lights are more pronounced

If you experience any of the above, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss cataract surgery.

The Presence of Other Eye Problems

Your eye doctor may encourage you to have cataract surgery if your cataracts render it difficult to examine the back of your eye to treat a range of serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinopathy. Any of these may require the urgent removal of the cataract so the optometrist can accurately diagnose and manage other serious eye problems.

What Happens If You Delay Surgery?

There are advantages to having cataract surgery earlier rather than later. Cataracts can severely interfere with daily life and can make night driving difficult, even hazardous. If left untreated, cataracts result in vision loss and eventually blindness. Additionally, over time cataracts become thicker, darker and denser, which can add unnecessary complications to the surgery and lengthen the post-surgery recovery period.

However, in certain cases, patients can wait to have cataract surgery. In the meantime, their eye doctor can recommend stronger prescription lenses or the use of bright lights to help them see better.

Whether you decide to get cataract surgery early on or to wait it out, we encourage you to do so under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Lawless at The Eye Disease Management Center at New Baltimore Optometry.

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Joseph Lawless

Q: What Are the Benefits of Cataract Surgery?

A: Having cataract surgery:

  • – Restores clear vision
  • – Enhances enjoyment of reading and watching TV
  • – Improves quality of life by allowing you to do everyday activities and hobbies
  • – Lowers the risk of developing other eye problems, such as eye inflammation and glaucoma
  • – Renders it safer to drive in low light environments

Q: How Do I Lower My Risk of Cataracts?

A: The tips below may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts:

  • – Have regular eye exams to catch any problems early
  • – Wear sunglasses to block UV rays – 10% of cataract cases are related to the sun’s harmful UV rays
  • – Maintain healthy blood sugar levels, particularly if you have diabetes
  • – Eat colorful fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamins C and E
  • – Quit smoking and drink only moderate amounts of alcohol
  • – Be aware that steroidal eye drops and corticosteroids may increase the risk of cataracts

References

 

6 Glaucoma Myths Debunked

elderly couple with their familyGlaucoma can do a great deal of damage to your visual system if it goes undetected and untreated. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there about glaucoma symptoms, detection and treatment that cause people to wait to see an eye doctor until it’s too late to prevent vision loss. In this article, we debunk 6 common glaucoma myths.

Myth 1: Glaucoma testing is painful

The Truth: Glaucoma testing is basically painless.

The most commonly used first test for glaucoma is an air puff test. Your optometrist will ask you to place your chin on a chin rest and while looking at a small light, a quick, soft puff of air will be blown at your eye to test the pressure inside your eye. The test takes mere seconds and reveals a great deal of valuable information to your eye doctor about your risk of glaucoma.

Your optometrist may also use an OCT device to create a full-color 3D scan of the inside of your eye, and perform visual field testing to see if the eye pressure has caused any changes to your field of vision. Both these tests can detect damage to ocular structures caused by glaucoma. Both tests are completely non-invasive, as neither touch the eye.

If necessary, your eye doctor may use anesthetic eye drops as part of a Goldmann applanation tonometry test. While these drops may sting slightly for a few seconds, the rest of the test is completely painless. After the anesthetic is applied, your eye doctor will use a small probe and a blue light to quickly and gently touch the cornea. This is an additional method to accurately determine the exact measurement of your inner-eye pressure.

Myth 2: Glaucoma cannot be prevented

The Truth: There are many steps a person can take to minimize their risk of developing glaucoma. They include:

  • Living a healthy lifestyle.

Research published in March 2016 in JAMA Ophthalmology has shown that a healthy diet that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables (especially the green leafy kinds) significantly reduces a person’s chances of developing glaucoma. Regular exercise helps as well, with experts suggesting that a regular routine of moderate to vigorous exercise may reduce risk by as much as 73%. Ask your physician about an appropriate exercise regimen for your age and body type. If you smoke, quitting could significantly lower your risk of glaucoma.

  • Having regular comprehensive eye exams. This one is especially important if you have a history of glaucoma in your family since glaucoma can be hereditary. Even if you don’t have a family history, regularly scheduled eye exams are important. Early detection of risk factors associated with glaucoma can put your optometrist on the lookout for subtle warning signs.
  • Protecting your eyes from injury. Severe eye injuries can significantly raise your risk of glaucoma. [Eye_doctors] recommend wearing protective eyewear any time you take part in activities where foreign objects may get in your eyes. This includes woodworking, soldering or working with any kind of paints or chemicals. Many sports, including baseball and racquetball, have a high incidence of eye injury.

Myth 3: There’s only one type of glaucoma

The Truth: There are several types of glaucoma. Each has its own causes and treatments.

The two most common types of glaucoma are open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma.

With angle-closure glaucoma, the structure in your eye responsible for the healthy outflow of fluid from the eye, known as the trabecular meshwork, becomes blocked. This prevents the outflow of fluid from the eye, elevating the intraocular pressure, damaging the ocular nerve and leading to vision loss.

This increase in eye pressure and nerve damage can occur suddenly or gradually over time. If a sudden spike in pressure occurs, the symptoms may include severe headache, nausea, vomiting, eye pain and seeing halos around lights.

Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the trabecular meshwork remains open, but there is still resistance to the outflow of fluid from the eye. This resistance creates a slow build-up pressure inside the eye, and just as in angle-closure glaucoma, damages the optic nerve and leads to vision loss. Open-angle glaucoma develops slowly and shows no obvious symptoms until irreversible damage to your eyes and vision has occurred.

Myth 4: Once you have glaucoma, nothing can be done to help

The Truth: While it is true that there is no cure for glaucoma, optometrists do have a number of options to help lower intraocular pressure, reduce its impact and save your sight

Treatment usually starts with medicated eye drops and oral medications that either increase the outflow of fluid from the eye or decrease the amount of fluid your eye produces.

If these treatments don’t work, eye doctors may also recommend the surgical implantation of drainage tubes, laser therapy or minimally invasive glaucoma surgery.

Myth 5: Only older people get glaucoma

The Truth: It is true that people over 60 are at the highest risk for glaucoma. However, glaucoma can affect people at any age.

Even infants can develop glaucoma if they’re born with certain conditions or birth defects that affect the eyes.

Individuals who are more susceptible include:

  • People who have sustained a serious eye injury in the past
  • People with a family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetics and those suffering from conditions such as cardiovascular disease and sickle-cell anemia
  • Those taking steroid medications long-term
  • African Americans and Hispanics
  • Asians (have a higher risk of closed-angle glaucoma)

Myth 6: You can’t have glaucoma if you don’t have symptoms

The Truth: Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma, accounting for over 90% of all glaucoma cases. Unfortunately, this type of glaucoma shows no noticeable signs or symptoms until vision loss has occurred.

Since glaucoma tends to impact the peripheral (side) vision first, many people might not notice that their vision is gradually shrinking. This is why regular comprehensive eye exams are so important to ensure that glaucoma is caught early, and a treatment plan can be devised well before serious damage has occurred.

Glaucoma can be a devastating eye condition if not caught and treated as early as possible. To find out more about prevention and treatment of glaucoma and similar eye conditions, contact us today.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Joseph Lawless

Q: Can smoking harm my eye health?

  • A: Yes. In multiple studies, researchers have found that the more cigarettes a person smokes each day, the higher their risks of developing glaucoma. Beyond glaucoma, smokers are also at a significantly higher risk of developing other eye diseases, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome.

Q: When should I consider glaucoma surgery?

  • A: Glaucoma surgery should be considered if your eye doctor has tried all other treatments, including prescription eye drops, oral medications and laser therapy, without success. Many types of glaucoma surgery exist. Ask your eye doctor to assess your condition and help decide which surgery is the best option to reduce your risk of vision loss, including blindness.Surgery cannot restore vision already lost because of glaucoma, but it can help protect the vision you still have and prevent your glaucoma from worsening.
Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

What Causes Early Onset Cataracts?

elderly man in red coat with cataractCataracts most often affect people over the age of 40, but sometimes younger people develop this sight-threatening eye condition, which is characterized by a cloudy buildup on the eye’s natural lens. Lifestyle, congenital conditions, damage to the eye and illnesses can all cause early cataracts.

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts occur when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy or opaque. Most frequently, this is caused by the breakdown of proteins in the ocular lens, which is located behind the iris and the pupil. As the protein cells of the lens age, they lose their clear appearance. This can be imperceptible at first, but as the proteins break down further they start to clump together and the first symptoms may develop.

The first noticeable signs of a cataract are cloudy vision, muted colors and sensitivity to even moderate light.

While most elderly adults will eventually develop a cataract, there are several conditions that cause cataracts in younger people, even newborns, including:

Congenital Cataracts

Some babies are born with congenital cataracts, which are the primary cause of treatable childhood blindness. The global prevalence of congenital cataracts is close to 15 per 10,000 children. However, due to higher standards of health care, the incidence is 2 per 10,000 births in the U.S. In most cases, eye surgery is required to remove infant cataracts, followed by vision correction, including contact lenses or glasses, to ensure the child’s vision develops properly and the risks of the child developing a lazy eye are reduced.

Congenital cataracts are usually caused by a mother’s illness during pregnancy, such as:

  • Measles or rubella (the most common cause)
  • Influenza
  • Chickenpox
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Herpes zoster

Babies born to women who took tetracycline antibiotics during pregnancy are at an increased risk of developing congenital cataracts.

Other causes of congenital cataracts are related to metabolic problems, inflammatory conditions, infection, diabetes or trauma.

Traumatic Eye Injury

Children, teens and young adults are prone to accidents, and a cataract can form in the eye after a traumatic injury to an eye. The most frequent types of eye traumas include:

  • A blunt object hitting the eye
  • A penetrating eye injury
  • Chemicals entering the eye
  • A burn on the eye

Eye injuries can occur while playing a range of sports. Getting hit in the eye with a ball or a hockey puck, a BB gun fired into the eye, corrosive chemicals or a spark from a firecracker entering the eye are examples of traumatic eye injuries.

Diabetes

According to a 2018 study in Eye, diabetics have twice the risk of developing cataracts. Although this can occur when the diabetic is young, the risk increases in middle age.

The link between diabetes and cataracts is related to blood sugar fluctuations. Diabetics can lower their risk of developing early cataracts by effectively controlling their blood sugar.

Drug Reactions

Certain drugs, such as steroids and statins, may increase the chances of developing cataracts at a relatively young age. According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology (December 2014), those who took statins to control cholesterol were in the group that developed early cataracts, although further research is needed before a direct connection can be determined.

Radiation Exposure

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, people who are exposed to low-dose ionizing radiation may have a higher risk of developing early cataracts. This type of radiation is used in X-rays and CT scans, so healthcare personnel who work in radiology departments should take extra care to protect their eyes.

Radiology professionals should also have regular eye exams to detect cataracts early. In addition, cancer patients who get regular CT scans should also have their eyes checked often.

Lifestyle Factors

Certain lifestyle factors may be associated with the early onset of cataracts, including:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Direct exposure to UV rays

Maintaining a healthy weight, refraining from smoking, and wearing protective sunglasses when outside in the sunlight are proactive ways to improve your general health and could possibly reduce the likelihood of developing early cataracts.

If you believe you are at risk for developing early cataracts or have questions about cataract treatment, contact The Eye Disease Management Center at New Baltimore Optometry in New Baltimore to schedule a consultation today!

The Eye Disease Management Center at New Baltimore Optometry provides eye care services to people in New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Joseph Lawless

Q: What are the main symptoms of cataracts?

  • A: In the early phase, cataracts may present with no symptoms at all, but as the protein of the lens breaks down and clump together, vision will start to get cloudy. Colors will not appear as bright and you will become more sensitive to glare. You may see a halo effect around bright lights and find night driving difficult or impossible.

Q: How are cataracts treated?

  • A: Cataracts are removed through surgery. Cataract surgery is performed frequently and is considered a low-risk and highly successful procedure. The surgeon makes a tiny incision in the cornea, uses ultrasound to break up the cloudy lens, removes the opaque lens and replaces the old lens with a clear artificial lens.