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Diabetes Health Center

3 Diabetes Tests You Must Have

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Diabetes Test #2: Dilated Eye Exam

If you have diabetes, your ophthalmologist or optometrist should perform a dilated eye exam, in which the pupils are widened with drops, to check for signs of diabetic retinopathy.

With diabetes, high blood sugar damages tiny blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. In a more advanced form called proliferative retinopathy, new blood vessels grow along the retina and in the clear, gel-like vitreous that fills the inside of the eye. Without treatment, these new vessels can bleed, blur vision, severely damage the retina, and lead to vision impairment or blindness.

In this country, diabetic retinopathy is the top cause of blindness in adults under age 65. Each year, as many as 24,000 people with diabetes lose their sight, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).

The good news: when doctors detect diabetic retinopathy, they can help prevent vision loss with timely and highly effective treatments, such as laser surgery to seal leaking blood vessels.

"Prevention is absolutely the key. If the patient waits until the vision is gone, it's probably not going to be restored to normal," Cagliero says.

All people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should have a dilated eye exam at least once a year as part of a complete eye exam. Early retinopathy may cause no noticeable symptoms, so regular eye exams are crucial for detecting emerging problems.

"A lot of patients tell me, 'I see fine. Why should I go and see the eye doctor?'" Cagliero says. "I tell them, 'That's exactly the time to go see the eye doctor because you can keep your vision great.'"

Diabetes Test #3: Foot Exam

Diabetes can cause nerve damage and numbness, as well as decreased circulation that makes it harder for your body to fight infection. Patients with numbness problems may not notice if they injure a foot. A resulting infection may not heal well, and skin and other tissue may die. In a small minority of cases, the problem progresses into a complication that requires amputation.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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