How Diabetes Affects Eye Health
Maintaining your vision requires you to take care of yourself, and avoiding issues related to your diabetes. The blood vessels in your eyes can be damaged by high blood sugar, resulting in a condition called diabetic retinopathy. With diabetes, you are also more susceptible to cataracts and glaucoma.
To track your blood sugar’s effect on your eyes, have an A1c blood test several times a year. It will show your blood sugar levels over the past few months, and you want a reading of 7% or less.
Diabetics should visit their eye doctor at least once a year to detect any problem early. Your eye doctor will dilate your pupils and examine your blood vessels for damage or any changes.
If you have diabetes and high blood pressure, you are compounding your risks. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure at every visit, and keep your blood pressure under control. For diabetics, you want a reading under 130/80.
Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, you don’t have to rely on willpower alone to stop. Ask your doctor for options to help you quit, or find a support program that works for you. Smoking has a damaging effect on your blood vessels on its own, and combined with diabetes can make you vastly more likely to develop eye problems.
You can further regulate your blood sugar with an exercise regimen. Ask your doctor when is the best time to check your levels before or during your workouts, especially if you are on insulin or other medications. There are a variety of workout programs, so keep looking until you find one that you enjoy.
Eat fewer processed foods. Adding more fresh fruits, proteins, vegetables and whole grains to your diet offers innumerable benefits. Consult your doctor about changes to your diet, especially if you are taking insulin, and visit a nutritionist for a plan that works for you.
Get your cholesterol tested regularly. A simple test will tell you your bad (LDL) and good (HDL) levels. Too much “bad” cholesterol (LDL) is associated with blood vessel damage.
Call your doctor right away if you are experiencing any changes in your vision or problems with your eyes. Symptoms such as black spots, light flashes, blurry vision or loss of sight require immediate care.