Diabetes and Eye Health

Diabetes is the number 1 cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations, and adult blindness. In addition to blindness, diabetes can cause other devastating eye issues. Approximately 30.3 million Americans have diabetes and 1 in 4 of them are not aware that they even have it. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. The numbers are staggering but what are the different types of diabetes, what is diabetic retinopathy, and what are other common forms of eye issues that can occur from having diabetes?

Types of Diabetes

Information in this section was taken from the Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and WebMD. In addition to the three types of diabetes, the sub-category of “prediabetes” will also be looked at in this section.

Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Different factors, including genetics and some viruses, may contribute to type 1 diabetes. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults.  (see this WebMD article for advice on type 1 in children by age).

Type 2 Diabetes: With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (but more and more in children, teens, and young adults). You may not notice any symptoms, so it’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you’re at risk. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active. Risk factors include being overweight, aged 45 or older, having a close family member with it, being physically active less than 3 days a week, and being of certain races (including African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans).

Gestational Diabetes: Diabetes when you’re expecting affects about 4% of all U.S. pregnancies. It’s caused by hormones the placenta makes or by too little insulin. High blood sugar from the mother causes high blood sugar in the baby. That can lead to growth and development problems if left untreated. Risks include having had it with a previous pregnancy, having given birth to a baby over 9 pounds, are overweight, aged 25 or older, having a family history of diabetes, having polycystic ovary syndrome, or being one of the races outlined under type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes: In the United States, 84.1 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. What’s more, 90% of them don’t know they have it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The good news is if you have prediabetes, a lifestyle change program can help you take healthy steps to reverse it. Risk factors are the same as those listed under type 2 diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

According to the National Eye Institute, diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. It affects blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye).  If you have diabetes, it’s important for you to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. Diabetic retinopathy may not have any symptoms at first — but finding it early can help you take steps to protect your vision.

In later stages of the disease, blood vessels in the retina start to bleed into the vitreous (gel-like fluid in the center of the eye). If this happens, you may see dark, floating spots or streaks that look like cobwebs. Sometimes, the spots clear up on their own — but it’s important to get treatment right away. Without treatment, the bleeding can happen again, get worse, or cause scarring.

Diabetic retinopathy can lead to other serious eye conditions:

Diabetic macular edema (DME): Over time, about half of people with diabetic retinopathy will develop DME. DME happens when blood vessels in the retina leak fluid, causing swelling in the macula (a part of the retina). If you have DME, your vision will become blurry because of the extra fluid in your macula.

Neovascular glaucoma: Diabetic retinopathy can cause abnormal blood vessels to grow out of the retina and block fluid from draining out of the eye. This causes a type of glaucoma.

Retinal detachment: Diabetic retinopathy can cause scars to form in the back of your eye. When the scars pull your retina away from the back of your eye, it’s called tractional retinal detachment.

To see illustrated videos on diabetic retinopathy see the article What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Other Common Eye Conditions

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss for people with diabetes. But diabetes can also make you more likely to develop several other eye conditions:

Cataracts: Having diabetes makes you 2 to 5 times more likely to develop cataracts. It also makes you more likely to get them at a younger age. All About Vision defines cataracts as the clouding of the eye’s natural lens. It is the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is also the principal cause of blindness in the world. When symptoms begin to appear, you may be able to improve your vision for a while using new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids. Think about surgery when your cataracts have progressed enough to seriously impair your vision and affect your daily life.

Open-angle glaucoma: Having diabetes nearly doubles your risk of developing a type of glaucoma called open-angle glaucoma. The Glaucoma Research Foundation defines open-angle glaucoma as an eye disease that gradually steals vision. There are typically no early warning signs or painful symptoms of open-angle glaucoma. It develops slowly and sometimes without noticeable sight loss for many years. The initial loss of vision is of side or peripheral vision, and the visual acuity or sharpness of vision is maintained until late in the disease. By the time a patient is aware of vision loss, the disease is usually quite advanced. Without proper treatment, glaucoma can lead to blindness. The good news is that with regular eye exams, early detection, and treatment, you can preserve your vision.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

Honoring Veterans

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), more than 2.7 million veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus, a ringing in the ears.  In addition, more than 158,000 veterans are blind or visually impaired, according to the Blinded Veterans Association. If you or a loved one is a veteran that falls into one of these categories, you may not realize the resources that are available to help.  This blog will look at a few of these resources, discuss the use of service dogs, and share a new commissary benefit that will start on January 1, 2020.


There are a wide variety of resources beyond the US Department of Veterans Affairs  available to help veterans throughout the nation. These are just a few of the organizations centered on veterans. To learn more about your local state, county or parish specific assistance you can look them up at VA Locations.

Blinded Veterans Association: BVA is a nonprofit Veterans Service Organization of more than 11,000 members and chartered by the United States Congress. They are designed to be the exclusive voice for blinded veterans before the legislative and executive branches of government. BVA provides a voice for blinded veterans, disseminates information, provides scholarships, offers support, and holds a national convention each year.

Disabled American Veterans:  DAV is a nonprofit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families, helping more than 1 million veterans in positive, life-changing ways each year. Annually, the organization provides more than 600,000 rides to veterans attending medical appointments and assists veterans with well over 200,000 benefit claims. In 2018, DAV helped veterans receive more than $20 billion in earned benefits. DAV’s services are offered at no cost to all generations of veterans, their families and survivors. DAV is also a leader in connecting veterans with meaningful employment, hosting job fairs and providing resources to ensure they can participate in the American Dream their sacrifices have made possible. With nearly 1,300 chapters and more than 1 million members across the country, DAV empowers our nation’s heroes and their families by helping to provide the resources they need and ensuring our nation keeps the promises made to them.

Veterans Criss Line: The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that’s available to anyone, even if you’re not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. The caring, qualified responders at the Veterans Crisis Line are specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans of all ages and circumstances.

Wounded Warrior Project:  Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves military service members, who incurred service-connected wounds, injuries, or illnesses on or after September 11, 2001, and their families.

Service Dogs

Service dogs can be an important recovery and sustainability tool for veterans coping with anxiety and/or PTSD. The VA defines service dogs as “guide or service dogs prescribed for a disabled veteran under 38 CFR 17.148 for the purpose of the veteran being diagnosed as having a visual, hearing, or substantial mobility impairment.” To view the requirements and rules to obtain a service dog  through the VA, including veterinary benefits, see Service and Guide Dogs.  VA approved service dogs come from licensed partners of Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF).

Another option for obtaining a service dog is through Southeastern Guide Dogs which is accredited through both ADI and IGDF.  Their landing page states “they serve those that cannot see and those that have seen too much. When people lose vision, it’s easy to lose hope. When veterans lose hope, it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to let the darkness define life instead of living life to its fullest. That’s why we develop extraordinary partnerships between our dogs and the people who need them, and offer our dogs and services at no cost, throughout the United States. We operate the most advanced training facilities of any service dog organization in the world. We create elite working dogs and provide life-changing services for people with vision loss, veterans with disabilities, and children with significant challenges such as vision loss or the loss of a parent in the military.”

Commissary Benefits Beginning January 1, 2020

The following information is taken from Military.com.  The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are gearing up for what will be the largest expansion of patrons to the military commissary system and exchanges in 65 years, making sure that shoppers will be able to get on base and find the shelves fully stocked.

Starting Jan. 1, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and all service-connected disabled veterans, regardless of rating, as well as caregivers enrolled in the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program, will be able to shop at Defense Commissary Agency stores and military exchanges.

They also will have access to revenue-generating Morale, Recreation and Welfare amenities, such as golf courses, recreation areas, theaters, bowling alleys, campgrounds and lodging facilities that are operated by MWR.

Since most new patrons lack the credentials needed to get on military bases, installations will accept the Veteran Health Identification card, or VHID, from disabled and other eligible veterans. For caregivers, the VA plans to issue a memo to eligible shoppers in the coming months, which will be used in conjunction with any picture identification that meets REAL ID Act security requirements, such as a compliant state driver’s license or passport. Please note that all IDs must be unexpired to be accepted.

As a side note, many veterans are not aware that they can already be shopping online through the military exchange.  If you or a loved one are an honorably discharged veteran you can learn more at Veterans Online Shopping Benefit.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please signup for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

LED Lighting

Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, are both energy efficient and long lasting. They are available in many options, including Christmas tree lights, and seem to be taking the world by storm. What makes these lights different than older versions? What do terms such as lux, lumen, and kelvin mean? Let’s look at the magical world of the LED.

What are LED bulbs?

Information in this section is taken from Energy.gov and Interior Deluxe. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are a type of solid-state lighting (SSL) — semiconductors that convert electricity into light. Although once known mainly for indicator and traffic lights, LEDs are one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly developing technologies. ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use only 20%–25% of the energy and last 15 to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs they replace. LEDs use 25%–30% of the energy and last 8 to 25 times longer than halogen incandescents.

Basically, LEDs are just tiny light bulbs that fit easily into an electrical circuit. But unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs, they don’t have a filament that will burn out, and they don’t get hot. It is expected that LEDs will completely replace incandescent and halogen bulbs sometime in the future.  Their light output is measured in lumens instead of watts. Because of their durability and performance these bulbs work well in both indoor and outdoor environments. To fully understand LEDs, and to better figure out which lights best fit your needs, it’s also important to understand watts, lumens, lux, and kelvin.

Watts, Lumens, and Lux

Interior Deluxe, using information from the US Department of Energy, has an easy to use calculator to compare watts to lumen. It also provides definitions for what watts and lumen mean.

Watts measure the amount of electrical power used to light a bulb. This means that the more watts a bulb shows the more power it will consume to produce light. So, a 200-watt bulb will use more power than a 100-watt bulb, giving just a little bit better and brighter light. These bulbs use only 10% of the electrical power to produce light while wasting the remaining 90% in producing heat. So essentially bulbs that give a watt reading are just letting the consumer know how much electrical power it will consume. The brightness of light or the output is up to the consumer to determine once they plug that bulb in the socket.

In contrast to watts, lumen is a measurement of light that is more appropriate for consumers. Lumens measure the output of light. In other words, lumens tell us how bright the light produced by a bulb will be. A few examples include a 40-watt incandescent bulb equals around 450 lumens, a 60-watt incandescent bulb equals around 800 lumens, and a 100-watt incandescent bulb equals around 1600 lumens.

Hunker provides an easy to understand explanation of the relationship of lux and lumen. Lux is a measure of how many lumens are present in a given area. To illustrate the difference between lumens and lux: While the sun always produces the same number of lumens, on cloudy days there are fewer lux outdoors. At night, only the lumens provided by the moon and stars reach the ground, leading to extremely low lux under a night sky. To achieve a desired lux level in a given space it may be necessary to use many light bulbs, each producing a given number of lumens.


Apart from brightness, you also must consider the color of the bulbs. This is typically denoted by a Kelvin rating (usually 2,700 to 6,500) and accompanied by a descriptive name, such as soft white or daylight. The following ranges are taken from a CNET article on warm light bulbs versus cool light bulbs.

Soft white (2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin) is warm and yellow, the typical color range you get from incandescent bulbs. This light gives a warm and cozy feeling and is often best for living rooms, dens and bedrooms.

Warm white (3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin) is a more yellowish-white. These bulbs are best suited for kitchens and bathrooms.  This OttLite Cobra Color Changing LED Lamp is a color changing LED desk lamp offering 3 levels of lighting, from warm light to cool light to natural daylight (3,000K, 4,000K and 5,000K.) Just select the color that is best for your needs.

Bright white (4,000 to 5,000 Kelvin) is between white and blue tones. With a less cozy and more energetic feel, bulbs with this color range are best for workspaces (such as a home office or garage) and kitchens with chrome fixtures. The OttLite Cobra Color Changing LED Lamp mentioned under “warm white,” transitions between warm white and bright white lights.

Daylight (5,000 to 6,500 Kelvin) has a more bluish tone. This light color will maximize contrast for colors, making it ideal for working, reading or applying makeup. An example of a task light falling into this category is the Uno LED Flex Desk Lamp. It has 28 high performance LED bulbs, 4 different brightness levels, and a flexible arm allowing for optimal positioning. Another option to consider is the Z-Line Lamp by Enfren BLACK. This modern-looking desk lamp offers brilliant white LED lighting with glare-control filters that help reduce eye strain. It reproduces natural light and prevents flickering.

While lights with a bluer hue make it easier to see contrast and small detail it’s also important to consider the health pros and cons. The main source of blue light is the sun and it’s the light that helps the body manufacture adequate amounts of vitamin D. Moderation is the key though as too much blue light can potentially increase your risk of macular degeneration as you age, as well as, cause eye strain. Blue light absorption rates are especially important after cataract surgery. Conversely, blue light can also increase alertness, help with memory and cognitive function, and can even elevate your mood.  If you’re worried about too much blue light exposure through your electronic devices using things such as computer glasses (they come in both prescription and non-prescription) or screen protectors (such as these Reticare screen protectors) can help.  To learn more about blue light, including scientific definitions, see All About Vision.

With that in mind, when choosing light bulbs for a room, think of what you normally do in that space and buy bulbs for that purpose.

To find more products and ideas to make your life easier check out our full site at https://www.independentliving.com/.