Type-2 diabetes is one of the modern-day major diseases known to mankind. You are not born with this type of diabetes (versus Type-1), but rather develop it from poor health and diet. I have first-hand experience with the disease because of my mother. She had diabetes for at least a couple of decades but it was left untreated until about 5 years ago. After she retired at a young age of 52, she sat on the couch and watched TV and ate unhealthy restaurant food. She is now on pills for the rest of her life because she does not want to change her eating (high carb diet) and physical lifestyle (ugh, sitting on the couch).
When she moved to Toronto, I ‘forced’ my mom to undergo a series of medical testing (including a head scan, despite her telling me she doesn’t need it). Even after her mini-stroke, she did not get any treatment so our family didn’t really know what had happened to her when chatterbox mom suddenly stopped talking completely one day.
Well, at her visit to the optometrist, she was told that diabetes had gotten “into her eyes”. This means that many blood vessels had burst in her eye, causing loss of vision (at that time, going blind in her left eye). The whole time, my mom thought it was just a bad eyeglass prescription needing a change. OMG!
She was referred to a retina specialist and was told she had major damage causing blindness and if left untreated would ultimately lead to blindness in both eyes. Her eye blood vessels were highly inflamed, so the course of treatment was some sort of anti-inflammatory needle in the eyeball. My dad broke into tears and sobbed deep from his gut watching a needle being inserted into her eye. It had gotten so bad. Without this treatment, I believe things would be way worse today. For now, she can still see the TV. But who knows for how long without any treatment?
Needless to say, after one round of treatment (she is supposed to do follow-up every year), she has not seen the optometrist in years. She refuses this along with just following up with blood work at her doctor’s office. She even wrote a note to the doctor! Telling him that she is not agreeable to do blood work more than once a year.
My mother is not alone
I also know others with this condition as well and it is frightening – diabetes is not just in our heads. It is in our blood and out to get us – our eyes, our feet, etc.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is basically when your “pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or your body does not properly use the insulin it makes” (www.diabetes.ca). So basically, your body cannot properly breakdown sugar in your blood, so your blood sugar levels become very high. Diabetes first attacks the smallest vessels in your body first – so your eyes. I also read about blood circulation issues in the feet. My mom’s feet are icy cold, so I am very scared for her. Those are the most common areas that are affected. You have probably heard of people needing amputation of their feet because the blood circulation becomes so limited and the body part is not receiving sufficient oxygen.
Prevention is so important. Go see your doctor and optometrist. Don’t ignore. I never really thought about it before, but there are advantages of wearing prescription glasses – you are more likely to visit the optometrist frequently.
I share the story of my mother because it is real. The damage caused by diabetes is REAL. A good friend of mine did not know she was diabetic until it was too late – she now needs frequent follow-up with her specialist for her eyes.
The answer to our problems is not always medication. You have probably heard stories of ‘recovery’ from conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) after people began to watch what they ate.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend THE MAGIC PILL film (on Netflix and probably other media) and Diabetes Canada website:
I wrote the poem below hoping to bring awareness to diabetes and eye health. It is so important not to ignore. Seek advice and/or treatment as soon as possible before it’s too late. Type-2 diabetes IS preventable.
Darkness is closing in around me.
I am scared.
Born with the gift of vision.
Reluctantly have to give it away.
Vessels burst. Degeneration fast.
I saw you not long ago.
An image of you I must now recall.
Please hold my hand as my vision fades away to
In this thing called life, we need to look after ourselves first.