diabetes and your retina

The retina is only three cell-layers thick. This is extremely thin! The layer which rests against the choroid receives its blood supply and vital oxygen from the choroid blood capillaries. The outer layers, however, receive their blood supply directly from blood vessels serving this region of the retina directly. So in fact, there are two separate sources of blood for the retina, a fact which will become of critical note when we discuss various retinal complications.

The outer surface of the retina which is attached to the vitreous humour contains the photosensitive cells known as rods and cones, as mentioned in an earlier chapter. These two types of cells are capable of receiving the various light inputs which come from the outside world, and of translating this light energy into an electro-chemical signal which is sent to the brain for processing and for the final experience of seeing.

We have now come to the most common cause of blindness in our culture today. We have also come to a discussion of the most rapidly spreading disease in our culture: diabetes.  Specifically, diabetes mellitus.

There are 10-20 million diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetics in the United States alone, and this figure is doubling every fifteen years. Traditional theories as to this radical increase in the disease are linked to genetic factors. Because diabetic people are being kept alive so they can reproduce, so the theory goes, more and more diabetic genes are being transferred into the population, with the resultant increase in the disease.

This is certainly part of the picture. But we should at least briefly discuss the alternative point of view as to the cause of diabetes. This has to do with the stress factor in diabetes. In the same way that families pass on genes which can cause a weakness in the organs affected by diabetes, they can also pass on an emotional profile of chronic stress and over-arousal syndromes, which also seem to generate a failure in the organs associated with diabetes.

To what extent are diabetic genes proliferating in our culture, as opposed to the proliferation of stress and chronic arousal syndromes throughout the population’? This is a question which needs to be determined, to really deal with the increase of diabetes in our communities and at large.

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