Our eyes are sensitive and delicate by nature, and diabetes can cause damage to them. Diabetes can impose great harm to eye health by causing vision impairment and even vision loss.
According to WebMD, diabetes is a primary cause of blindness in adults aged from 20 to 74. There are several types of eye diseases associated with diabetes including Diabetic Macular Edema, Diabetic Retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. NIH also states that all forms of diabetic eye disease can cause severe vision loss and blindness.
Here are some of the ways how you should protect your vision when you have diabetes.
1) Practice good diabetes management
Diabetes increases the sugar levels in the blood which can cause the tiny blood vessels in your eyes to suffer from serious damage. In most cases, it’s often unmanaged diabetes that triggers the onset of eye complications such as diabetic retinopathy which causes the blood vessels in the retina to leak blood.
So, one of the best ways for protecting your vision is to keep your blood sugar level in check. Maintain a strict routine for checking your blood sugar as high blood sugar can alter the shape of the eyes’ lens which can cause blurry vision. Also, you need to make sure that you maintain a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
You should also consult with your doctor. When your doctor knows that you have diabetes, he/she can be prepared to offer appropriate screenings to monitor eye health. Doing so can eventually lower the risk of developing eye complications.
2) Have regular dilated eye examination
According to American Academy of Ophthalmology, Diabetic Retinopathy doesn’t have any symptoms during the early stages. So, you may never know that you have Diabetic Retinopathy unless severity such as vision impairment starts to appear.
So, the best way to prevent the onset of Diabetic Retinopathy is to do timely dilated eye exam. During a dilated eye exam, your doctor conducts a thorough examination of the retina and optic nerve – mainly for checking signs of damage before it worsens. When you have your eye health under scrutiny, your doctor can arrange treatment for treating the disease when it’s not reached the advanced stage.
3) Boost eye health with proper diet
Apart from managing your blood sugar levels and undergoing regular dilated eye exam, you should also eat healthy food. Maintaining a well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients can boost eye health which, in turn, can significantly reduce the risk of diabetic eye diseases.
According to Healthline, our eyes require several antioxidants to stay healthy. These include Zinc, Vitamin A, C, E, zeaxanthin, lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, and beta-carotene. Foods that boost eye health include fish (particularly salmon), kale, carrots, eggs, oranges and almonds.
In general, you have to include leafy vegetables, lean meat, and colourful fruits in your diet for boosting your eye health.
4) Exercise regularly
Exercise is the ultimate answer to maintaining good health and managing diabetes. Interestingly, exercise is good for your eye health as well – according to American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Although exercise might not benefit eye health directly, it can help in lowering blood sugar levels (in case of diabetes) which, in turn, improves your eye health. So, make sure that you exercise regularly. You can set a routine as to when you can manage your time and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
Your exercise regime doesn’t necessarily have to include heavy workouts. Light to moderate-intensity workouts including brisk walking, jogging, running, cycling and swimming are good for eye health. Moderate intensity exercise such as running and jogging can help in reducing eye pressure in young adults.
5) Eye protection
As discussed above, our eyes are delicate and therefore need great care, especially in case of diabetic patients. Apart from maintaining a good eye health, you have to be concerned about protecting your eyes as well, and the best way to do such is to wear sunglasses.
Sunglasses are more than a fashion accessory as they play a key role in protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays. According to NIH, a study funded in part by NEI (National Eye Institute) found out that chronic exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of cataract. What’s more surprising is that people with diabetes stand at a greater risk of triggering eye complication with exposure to the UV rays.
So, it is important that you wear sunglasses whenever you go outside, even if it’s cloudy as UV rays can pass through thin clouds and haze. It is even better if you are able to get your hands on frames that come with a close-fitting wraparound style as UV rays can even affect the sensitive skin surrounding the eyelid which can cause skin cancer.
6) Quit smoking
Quitting smoking should be one of the first priorities in the prospect of preventing diabetic eye disease. Apart from imposing a serious threat to overall health, smoking also deteriorates eye health, especially in case of diabetic patients.
According to Healthline, smoking can potentially accelerate the development of diabetic retinopathy and worsen the disease. Over time, worsening of diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness. So, it is a must that you quit smoking and other tobacco-related products.
If you are one of those who finds it impossible to quit smoking, you can undergo therapies that help you get over with it. You can even take over-the-counter aids and nicotine gums for extra help. But you need to be aware of the fact that nicotine raises blood sugar. So, you need to cut off your consumption on nicotine-related aids once you quit smoking.
Get your eyes regularly checked at Disha Eye Hospital even though you feel your vision is normal.