Type 1 diabetes is a widespread health problem faced by many people. According to a recent study by CDC, over 1.4 million US adults have Type 1 diabetes and are using insulin. It is a chronic condition where the pancreas loses its ability to produce an appropriate amount of insulin. Lack of insulin increases sugar levels, leading to Type 1 diabetes.
Despite all the efforts and research, there is no treatment yet for Diabetes Type 1. Hence, this medical problem can easily scare anyone. If not the diagnosis itself, regular blood reports and sugar level checks can irritate and lead to stress.
While most people associate this medical condition with sugar and diet, it can also impact other aspects of life. Today we will be discussing one such aspect, the vision. For several years, doctors used to say a straight “no” to diabetic patients for using contact lenses. However, this is slowly changing now.
Doctors used to say no to contact lenses because of dryness of the eyes and the risk of corneal erosion and diabetic retinopathy. A recent study found out that there are no significant complication differences among individuals with diabetes and those who have their sugar level under control. In fact, doctors now believe that several people with Type 1 diabetes can use contact lenses without significant risks.
With that being said, it is always a wise choice to consult with your doctor before using a contact lens. Be specific with any eye-related symptoms you are experiencing. Such details will help your doctor offer the best options available for you. The doctor will also conduct examinations to determine HbA1c levels on the ocular surface. The higher the levels, the more are the risks. If the levels are higher than 10%, the doctor is unlikely to prescribe contact lenses.
Alongside consulting with an eye specialist, you need to consider certain factors and precaution measures to reduce the chances of any eye diseases.
Preventive Measures for Type 1 Diabetes People Using Lens
While there are no significant complication differences, diabetic individuals can suffer from eye problems if they don’t take the required precautions, such as:
Select the Right Contact Lens and Supplier
There are different types of contact lenses, and not all of them might be suitable for you. You need to select your lenses wisely. Usually, a Type 1 diabetes person is advised to opt for soft and disposal lenses. However, based on the HbA1c levels, you can choose from the other types like rigid gas permeable and extended wear.
Cleaning the lenses is essential to ensure you are not at risk of eye diseases. Moreover, your glass prescriptions are different from lenses. If you buy a lens based on the glass’s details, you might not be able to see well. It might also cause irritation and promote diabetes-related eye diseases.
Cleaning the Lenses
When using contact lenses, cleaning them is the most important thing. An unclean lens can irritate and lead to corneal erosions. It can significantly increase your risk of eye damage, Therefore learning how to take care of your contact lenses properly is key. The first thing you need to do is clean your hands first. Use an antibacterial soap to wash your hands and dry them. Once they are clean, follow the steps below to clean your lenses:
- Use a cleaning solution to wash the lenses
- Use your fingers to rub them for better results
- Wash the lenses with a fresh cleaning solution and let them dry
Additionally, you should also follow other general instructions, which includes:
- Keeping the cleaning solution capped firmly
- Not transferring the solution to any other container
- Replacing the lens case at regular intervals, at most, after every three months
- Changing the lenses within a month, even if they are for extended wear
- Removing lenses before going to the bed
- Never reuse a disposable lens
Signs to Look Out For
Since you are a Type 1 diabetes patient at a slightly higher risk of eye diseases, it is vital to look out for signs that could alert you of any dangers. The most common symptoms to look out for are:
- HbA1c fluctuations: You need to monitor your HbA1c levels frequently. If the numbers seem to go high after using contact lenses, stop using them and consult your doctor about it.
- Dry eyes: Dry eyes, particularly in Type 1 diabetes patients, are signs of the chances of corneal damage. You can monitor the symptoms of dry eyes, which are itchiness, burning sensation, and grittiness. You might also feel the presence of a foreign body in your eyes.
- Vision impairment: If you can’t see correctly due to blurriness or floaters, it is best to visit your doctor.
Almost all the people suffering from any diabetes-Type 1-associated eye disease will have dry eyes. That’s because the high sugar levels can cause nerve damage that is linked to tear production, leading to dryness. Hence, you need to ensure that your eyes are not too dry. Some practices that you can use to prevent dryness are:
- Messaging eyelids
- Using a humidifier
- Blinking frequently while in front of a screen
- Keeping sugar levels in control
- Applying warm compresses at regular intervals
Using these simple tricks will help you avoid dryness and corneal damage. The key here will be to be consistent with the practices.
Usage of contact lenses by Type 1 diabetes individuals was considered risky earlier. However, with recent studies showing that there’s not much risk difference, several patients use it. All you need to do is follow the best practices and preventive measures to mitigate the chances of any risks. There’s nothing you need to fear when using a contact lens if you can handle that.