When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes around two years ago, my earliest emotions were classical – shock, denial, anger, and acceptance. And when I did finally accept my condition, I knew deep down that I had it coming. My frenetic lifestyle, unhealthy dietary choices, insufficient and irregular sleep, and sedentary habits culminated into the king of all “lifestyle disorders.”
I was moving up the corporate ladder fast, just like any ambitious 35 years old with an envious academic record and work experience in one of the country’s finest companies. Unfortunately, the feverishly furious corporate culture took its toll on my health. I had heard gory tales of victims of the fast pace of the corporate system. However, I wasn’t prepared for what was in store for me.
That type 2 diabetes is a difficult disease to deal with is a gross understatement. It’s a metabolic disorder that has the uncanny ability to hurt any and every organ of your body. I say this from experience. But I had no idea about the effect of diabetes on eyes, of all the places in my body!
The first thing that comes to mind when we say diabetes is an increase in blood sugar levels. The most naïve understanding is to “control blood sugar.” But why do we need to do that is something most people do not know. Not even people with diabetes themselves know why managing your diabetes is so crucial to our everyday lives.
So, I was part of this majority. I was given medications to help control my glucose levels and I have advised a specific diet and an exercise regimen. But I had no time for diabetes. I had a lot of catching up to do. My career was at stake. In hindsight, that was naivety at its peak. But I was unaware of its repercussions.
I gradually started slipping into my usual routine. Long hours at work, irregular hours of sleep, irregular eating schedules, and over-dependence on “convenience” (read, junk) foods became the norm again. But I was particular with my medication and took them religiously, on time. I thought that the medications would keep my blood sugar levels in check while I merrily go about my life. How utterly wrong I was!
One afternoon, I had just closed my laptop and was looking at the whiteboard in front of me. I had a blurred vision. I wasn’t able to read what was written on it. I rubbed my eyes and tried to focus. I couldn’t. I attributed it to my time working on the laptop. So I closed my eyes for a bit. A phone call from my superior awoke me from my reverie and I was soon running around my office with my tail on fire.
In the next few days, my blurry vision would increase and I had trouble focusing. When this continued for a few days, I decided to see my doctor. What my doctor told me shocked me beyond belief. He said that my vision problems could well be due to the direct relationship between diabetes and eyesight and that it was a result of poorly managed diabetes. He checked my blood sugar levels. They were still uncomfortably high. He asked me to see an ophthalmologist (eye specialist). The Dilated eye exam result revealed that I was suffering from blurred vision because of high blood pressure within my eyeballs. This was, hold on for this, due to high levels of blood sugar!
After a lengthy discussion with my doctor, I realized the gravity of my health problem. I realized that not only did diabetes effect on the eyes took place but diabetes could also cause cardiovascular damage, neurological problems, liver and kidney diseases, and much more. I decided to take my condition seriously and understand more about the stages of diabetic retinopathy. I sat down with my doctor to create a comprehensive and holistic strategy to manage my diabetic condition.
Everything revolved around diet and exercise. I was also advised to take high-quality supplements to replenish my body with vital nutrients that I had lost due to diabetes as well as due to my prolonged use of anti-diabetic medication. For my eyes and its vision loss, I was advised to take a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful carotenoids that are of immense value for healthy eyes and visual acuity. I started taking vitamins like Lutein and Zeaxanthin along with bilberry and N-acetyl glucosamine, all of which help in repairing eye damage.
I was lucky to catch the effect of diabetes on eyes early before it took away my vision permanently. However, it was a rude wakeup call and I am glad that I did wake up on time. I have become friends with my diabetic condition. I respect its awesome powers and do absolutely nothing to rub it the wrong way. It, in turn, hasn’t done anything to harm me as well. One day, I do aim to reverse my diabetic condition, but in the meantime, I am not taking any chances with my health and certainly not with my eyes.