How chronic kidney disease in type 2 diabetes affects your health

Learn about the dangers of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and how it impacts the health of the heart and eyes.

Dangers of “leaky kidneys”

Some healthcare professionals may refer to kidney damage caused by CKD as “leaky kidneys” or “protein in the urine.” This is because your kidneys can’t filter protein out of blood the way they are supposed to. This protein can “leak” from the kidneys into your urine. A person with healthy kidneys doesn’t have protein in the urine. A urine test, also called a UACR, once a year can detect the smallest amount of protein in urine and indicate if you are at risk for CKD.

The heart-kidney connection

Your heart and kidneys work together to keep you healthy. When one is affected it affects the other. This is why chronic kidney disease can worsen heart disease; likewise, heart disease can worsen CKD. CKD and heart disease share some of the same risk factors, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

The heart-kidney connection

Heart disease is the most common cause of death among people with CKD and type 2 diabetes (T2D). People with CKD in T2D are 3 times more likely to die from a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, than people who have only T2D. In fact, people with CKD and T2D are more likely to pass away from cardiovascular disease before they reach stage 5 CKD, which is an advanced stage when kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant are necessary to live.


Kidneys and eye health

High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in your kidneys as well as in your eyes. With CKD, kidneys are unable to filter waste as well as they should. Excess phosphate and calcium can build up and settle in the eyes, causing them to become dry and irritated.

Kidneys and eye health

Your eyes may experience retinopathy if diabetes and/or high blood pressure, worsened by CKD, damages the small blood vessels in the retina. Sometimes damaged vessels form scar tissue that can lead to a detached retina, vision loss, or blindness.

 

Glaucoma develops when pressure builds up in the eye and damages the optic nerve. This damage can lead to partial or total vision loss. High blood pressure caused by CKD is a possible risk factor for glaucoma. Kidney dialysis may also cause pressure changes within the eye.