A diabetes diagnosis can feel devastating. It means that you may be facing the loss of limbs and vision. It comes with significant lifestyle changes for this disease with no cure. Left untreated and unmanaged, diabetics face the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and nerve damage. Learning what you can about your disease and taking active and proactive steps to manage and mitigate the risks are key factors to having a long and healthy life, even with diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is actually a group of diseases that involve the body’s hormones and normal insulin production not functioning as they should. In healthy people the pancreas produces insulin that helps to store and use the sugars and fats that are taken in with the consumption of food. When people have diabetes their body may produce little to no insulin or their cells are not able to interact with it. Without functional insulin, cells cannot take in the glucose from food, it builds up in the blood and causes damage to blood vessels in the kidneys, heart, eyes and nervous system. (Source).
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is typically genetic. The body actually attacks the pancreas and your body cannot make insulin. Type 1 diabetics typically need to take insulin every day or they will die. This disease is frequently diagnosed in children or infants, but occasionally is not identified until adulthood.
Type 2 diabetes is generally related to diet and obesity and is the most common form. People with this disease do not use insulin well. Though it is found in children, with a surge in cases due to childhood obesity, it is most common in adults. This disease can generally be controlled through diet and exercise.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy, typically going away after childbirth. In some cases, however, it can develop into type 2 diabetes, or is misdiagnosed and actually is type 2 diabetes. If you are diagnosed with this disease you will be very closely monitored during your pregnancy because of the risk factors for both you and your unborn baby.
There are several other types of more rare diabetes that are found in a very small percentage of diabetics. These include the various forms of monogenic diabetes and diabetes related to cystic fibrosis. These are genetic in nature and are harder to control.
Diabetes and Eye Disease
It is well established that diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults and that eye diseases are one of the most common types of complications across the diabetes spectrum. Typically found are diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, glaucoma, and infestations of Demodex folliculorum.
The American Diabetes Association, which tracks eye diseases in diabetics, reports that most people suffer only mild eye diseases but that they are 40% more likely to develop glaucoma and 60% more likely to develop cataracts than healthy individuals. (Source). Older diabetics have a much greater, up to 90%, chance of suffering eye disorders including ocular complications, retinopathy, and changes in refraction. (Source). Multiple studies have demonstrated that in patients with poor glucose control there are significantly higher populations of Demodex mites, with increases in infestation occurring with age. (Source). Demodex mite infestations can cause blepharitis, which will aggravate other eye conditions, as well as act as bacteria vectors that can cause infection and an inflammatory or immune response of the eye. (Source).
Controlling Demodex in Diabetes
Demodex can be controlled, as can glucose, and almost every diabetes related eye disease is either preventable or treatable when they are caught early. For many patients this means wearing the right glasses, possibly having surgery before non-reversible blindness occurs, carefully controlling glucose levels, and maintaining an eye-hygiene routine. There are some cases in which prevention is not possible, but overall it can eliminate “needless vision loss.” This means working with your doctor and having routine and regular ophthalmological exams to monitor for any indication of eye disease and then closely following medical advice if and when issues are found.
If Demodex mites are found, your eye doctor will likely point you in the direction of using an in-home treatment that is based on the capcitty of tea tree oil for eradicating the mite population. The most important component of this naturally occurring compound, 4-terpineol, or T40, breaks the mite life-cycle and cleans Demodex waste off of the skin and out of the hair follicles and sebaceous glands where the mites live. Although tea tree oil is often recommended, it is not nearly as efficient as 4-terpineol against mites. Cliradex is recommended in The Review of Optometry, because it has the highest quantity of T40 available in an over the counter product.
Because Cliradex is a natural eyelid cleanser that is 100% vegan and gluten-free it is safe to use. Added into a daily hygiene routine it will not only keep Demodex mites at bay, but will also help to soothe the discomfort associated with mite infestations. This will allow you to focus on controlling the other parts of your diabetes so that you can stay healthy, active and whole.