If you have diabetes, prevention of diabetic eye disease is a priority. Diabetes increases too much glucose in the bloodstream, causing damage to the nerves and blood vessels that run throughout the body, including the eyes. If not managed, diabetes increases the risk of developing certain eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, blurred vision, and macular edema.
The best way to prevent diabetic eye disease is to manage your blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Follow these steps to make sure you preserve your vision.
Manage Your Blood Sugar
When your blood sugar is too high, it can damage the tiny blood vessels that transport oxygen and other nutrients to the eyes. It can also change the shape of your eye lens, causing blurry vision. Keeping your blood sugar levels in your target range can keep your blood vessels healthy and your vision intact. You can achieve this through prescribed medication and lifestyle changes.
Control Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can worsen diabetic eye disease and cause vision loss. Get recommendations from your doctor on ways you can combat and monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly to protect your eyes and your overall health.
Moderate exercise lowers your blood pressure and blood sugar and raises your good cholesterol. Physical activities like bicycling, walking, or cleaning the house are great options for exercise. You should get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise plan that works for you.
Eat for Your Eyes
Eating healthy foods can keep your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure in check and reduce the risk of diabetic eye disease. Use the diabetes plate for a balanced diet. Fill half of your plate with water veggies such as spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and collard and turnip greens. One-quarter of your plate should be reserved for foods high in protein like fatty fish, meat, eggs, poultry, nuts, and tofu. The other quarter can have whole grain starches and bread, starchy vegetables, and grains.
If you smoke, you’re twice as likely to get diabetic eye disease and have it get worse faster. Giving up tobacco will reduce that risk.
Avoid Harmful Rays
The sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays can damage your eyes and increase the risk of getting eye problems, including cataracts. So, protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV-A and UV-B rays. Sport the shades even on cloudy days.
See Your Eye Doctor
Diabetic eye disease often has no symptoms in its early stages. It can progress very fast before any changes to your vision. A dilated eye exam at least once a year allows your eye doctor to thoroughly examine the optic nerve and retina for signs of damage. Early detection and treatment may hold off more serious problems later.
Active management of diabetes and proper eye care can reduce your risk of diabetic eye disease and help you maintain healthy vision for life.
Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more about eye care and get your annual comprehensive eye exam.