How Can You Protect Your Child's Vision After a Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis?

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Although many strides have been made over the past few decades when it comes to the management of Type I diabetes, the phrase "your child is diabetic" can still strike fear into any parent's heart. You may be concerned about the long term effects on your child's health, especially if he or she is too young to effectively manage his or her own self-care and blood sugar levels. Read on to learn more about how juvenile diabetes can affect the eyes and what you as a parent can do to preserve your child's vision after a diagnosis of Type I diabetes.  

How does diabetes affect the eyes?

Both Type I and Type II diabetes can be harmful to the eyes due to the long-term effects of high blood sugar. When your blood sugar remains at higher-than-healthy levels for hours (or days) at a time, it can damage or even kill the tiny blood vessels that carry red blood cells to your eyes, fingers, and toes. (This phenomenon is also behind the higher incidence of circulatory problems among diabetic patients.) Once these ocular capillaries have been damaged, it becomes more difficult for the eye to receive the oxygen and other blood-borne nutrients it needs, eventually resulting in vision loss as more and more cells die.

What can you do to minimize the impact of Type I diabetes on your child's vision? 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to preserve your child's vision and ocular health even after a Type I diabetes diagnosis.

The first step is to carefully monitor blood sugar levels and do all you can to keep them within the recommended range. Even for those who have some experience with diabetes, this can be a trial and error process, so it's important to remain patient and diligent. You may want to purchase a blood sugar monitor designed for children, as they are generally more efficient at collecting blood in a pain-free manner (allowing for more frequent testing) and can even be operated by your child once he or she becomes more comfortable with this process. 

Much like high blood pressure, high blood sugar is a "silent" killer—one day of elevated blood pressure (or sugar levels) is unlikely to cause any long-term harm, but allowing one's blood sugar to remain elevated for weeks or months at a time will almost inevitably cause capillary and nerve damage. By keeping your child's blood sugar within the recommended range for the majority of his or her waking hours, you'll be well on your way to preserving his or her sight.

To learn more, contact eye care clinics like West Bay Eye.