3 posts tagged “blindness”

Building a True Picture of Diabetes During American Diabetes Month

Posted November 5th, 2012 by

Get a Clearer Picture of Diabetes During American Diabetes Month This November

November is American Diabetes Month, and this year, the American Diabetes Association is working to reshape the understanding of diabetes.  The goal is to raise awareness of the fact that diabetes is life-changing disease with a huge societal impact – and not a minor hindrance, as some people think.

As part of this mission, the ADA is asking patients with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes to send in a photo that captures what life with diabetes is like.  What are the everyday challenges and considerations?  Help the ADA build a mosaic of the “true picture of diabetes” and CVS will donate a $1 for every photo uploaded, up to $25,000.

Upload Your Photo of Life with Diabetes, and CVS Will Donate $1 for Each Photo.

Another way to get a clearer picture is to consider some of the alarming facts about diabetes, which is projected to affect as many as one in three Americans by 2050:

  • 26 million Americans are currently living with the disease
  • 79 million Americans have prediabetes, putting them at risk for type 2 diabetes
  • Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart attack or stroke
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of adult blindness
  • The cost of diabetes is $1 out of every $5 in total healthcare costs

If you are living with diabetes, or you’re at risk for developing it, connect with others like you at PatientsLikeMe.  There are more than 1,000 type 1 diabetes patients and more than 4,700 patients type 2 diabetes patients in our community who are sharing experiences with blood glucose controlsymptoms, treatments and more.

How do they evaluate common medications such as Metformin and Insulin Glargine?  How many have undergone a kidney transplant?  Who’s taking part in a diabetes-related clinical trial?  Exchange knowledge and support with those facing many of the same struggles as you.

A Snapshot of the Type 2 Diabetes Community at PatientsLikeMe

For an in-depth picture of a family affected by diabetes, check out our interview with kidney transplant recipient Michael Burke.


Glaucoma: The Disease That Steals Your Sight

Posted January 5th, 2012 by

January Is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Did you know that as much as 40% of your vision can be lost due to glaucoma – without  your notice?

That’s why they call glaucoma the “sneak thief of sight.”  There are no symptoms, and once your vision is lost, it’s permanent.  This is one of the urgent messages of National Glaucoma Awareness Month, which takes place every January.  (And for good reason – according to a National Eye Institute survey, only 8% of Americans are aware of the fact that glaucoma has no early symptoms.)

Over four million Americans have glaucoma, and given its stealth progression, approximately half of them don’t know it.  The leading cause of preventable blindness, glaucoma is more prevalent in African American and Latino populations.  For example, it is six to eight times more prevalent in African Americans than Caucasians.  People who are severely nearsighted, have diabetes or who have family members with glaucoma are also at higher risk.

A Snapshot of the Glaucoma Community at PatientsLikeMe

While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments (including medication and surgery) that can help slow or prevent vision loss.  That’s why it’s so important to have regular eye exams, especially if you are over 60.  The disease can strike at younger ages, though, as the data from our glaucoma community at PatientsLikeMe shows.  Of the 107 members reporting the disease, approximately 60% are between the ages of 40 and 59.

Haven’t been to the eye doctor in a while?  Make an appointment today for your peace of mind.


Battling the Complications: An Interview with Diabetes Patient Michael Burke (Part II)

Posted November 9th, 2011 by

Last week, in Part I of this interview, PatientsLikeMe member and blogger Michael Burke shared his sister Linda’s struggle with type 1 diabetes.  Today, we learn about his own type 1 diabetes journey, including his June 2011 kidney transplant as a result of diabetes-induced kidney failure.

1.  What diabetes complications have you faced?

PatientsLikeMe Member and Diabetes Blogger Michael Burke

Diabetes is a disease that appears to be misunderstood by most people, in that the consequences of the disease can lead to many different complications.  As I mentioned earlier, both Linda and I suffered from diabetic retinopathy…essentially, you can go blind from diabetes.  Another complication is nephropathy, or kidney disease.  For me, this led to kidney failure and the eventual need for a kidney transplant this past June.

Heart disease is another major complication.  Personally, I never knew that I had any heart disease until one day my primary care physician sent me for a routine stress test.  During the stress test, the cardiologist felt it necessary to immediately admit me to the hospital and do a cardiac catheterization the next morning.  When he did, he found two blockages in my right coronary artery – one was a 90% blockage and the other was an 85% blockage.  I then had several stents placed.  After two years, those stents were becoming ineffective, and I required heart bypass surgery.  Lucky for me, there was a heart surgeon in Boston who was doing bypass surgery robotically.  What this meant for me was a much smaller incision (about an inch and a half compared to the whole chest being opened up), and being a diabetic, less risk of infection and a shorter recovery time.

Another complication is [diabetic] neuropathy, or nerve damage.  Typically, this usually affects the feet, but other parts of the body can be affected as well.  As for Linda and I, the neuropathy is/was primarily in our feet.  For Linda, it was extremely painful, with the feeling that you are constantly being poked in your feet with something very sharp.  For me, the feeling has been quite different, in that there is no feeling, at least around my big toes, which in turn has caused some balance issues for me.  Neuropathy is serious, it’s not just that it is painful for some and a loss of feeling for others.  It can also lead to amputation of your toes, your foot, or in drastic circumstances, part of or all of your leg.

2.  What was your kidney transplant experience like, and how are you doing now?

I went through a whole lot of emotions over the course of getting this new lease on life.  Although I had been prepared by my kidney doctor over the last several years that I was most likely going to need a kidney transplant, the day I sat with the transplant team for the first time was absolutely frightening and surreal at the same time.  It’s hard to explain.

I just remember sitting with the transplant team and when the transplant doctor said, “Ok, we will put you on the transplant list within the next few days, and we will move forward,” my heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going pop out of my chest.  There is also a lot of anxiety that goes along with the whole transplant process.  At first, I didn’t know where the kidney would come from.  I knew there were family members who said that they wanted to be tested and now I was also on the national transplant list.

Michael Burke's Brother and Kidney Donor Tommy

When my brother Tommy was starting the testing process, I kept going back and forth in my head.  It would be great to have someone close to me donate, but then there was the guilt.  If I ever rejected their kidney now they are left with just one.  As it turned out, Tommy was a 5 out of 6 antigen match, and he donated his kidney to me in June.

I had often heard before the transplant that you won’t understand how badly you felt or how sick you were before the surgery until after the surgery.  That could not be a truer statement.  I never really felt sick before, and I have been told that is because kidney disease can be very slow and progressive.  However, looking back today, I can honestly say that there has been a 180 degree turnaround.  I have much more energy and I just generally feel well – it has been a huge difference, and I have Tommy to thank for that.

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Are you a diabetes patient as well?  In honor of American Diabetes Month, share your thoughts and stories at CallingAllTypes.com.