Protecting your eyes in Diabetes

Uncontrolled and long-term high blood glucose levels can lead to damage in the retina leading to vision problems.  Three common eye diseases of people with diabetes are diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy is the weakening of the tiny blood vessels in the retina, glaucoma is the buildup of pressure in the eye, and cataract is the clouding of the lens, which can permanently blur your vision. Here is what you can do to keep your eyes healthy and prevent vision loss if you have diabetes:

  1. Maintain Blood sugar levels: People with uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to develop eye issues, so monitor your blood sugar, follow a healthy diet and exercise regimen and take your medication as directed.
  2. Annual Eye screenings: Regular eye tests will help with early detection of vision problems. Dilated eye tests where your pupils are dilated for better view of the retinas is helpful to uncover diabetes related eye problems.
  3. Do not smoke: Smoking causes problems with your blood vessels which can accelerate the development of diabetic retinopathy as well as increase your chances of stroke.
  4. Manage blood pressure and cholesterol: The combination of high blood sugar, high blood pressure and cholesterol can cause much damage to your vision. Take your medication regularly.
  5. Get proper nutrition: Protecting your eyes can start with eating a well-balanced diet including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc can help reduce the risk of developing cataract and macular degeneration.
  6. Exercise: Exercising regularly can help improve glycemic control, one of the contributing factors in determining how likely you are to develop eye damage related to diabetes. Avoid heavy exercising that can cause additional strain to the blood vessels.
  7. Protect your eyes with sunglasses: UVA exposure can contribute to cataract and macular degeneration, so always shield your eyes from the sun with UVA and UVB sunglasses. Also, be sure to wear safety glasses when working with tools or participating in active sports to help prevent eye injuries that potentially could cause permanent vision loss

For people with diabetes, the combination of poor vision and nerve problems in the legs can affect balance and make them more prone to falling.  If the vision has been affected already, make sure your home is safe to prevent trips and falls which can lead to serious injuries to your body.

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Sources:

Everyday Health

Medtronic Diabetes

Medline Plus

Joslin