Poor eye health and vision impairment is one of the biggest risks associated with diabetes. High blood sugar causes damage to the blood vessels in the eyes and can lead to an eye condition known as Diabetic retinopathy.
Although Diabetic Retinopathy cannot be cured, it can be prevented by managing blood sugar. Here’s a quick glance at how you can take care of your eyes when you have diabetes:
1) Understanding the risk factors
Understanding the risk factors associated with diabetic eye complication is a preliminary step in taking care of your eyes if you have diabetes. The risk factors for the onset and worsening of Diabetic Retinopathy include:
- High cholesterol
- Poor blood sugar control
- High blood pressure
- Eating unhealthy foods
- Sedentary lifestyle
2) Control blood pressure and sugar
High blood pressure, which is common for people with diabetes, combined with high blood sugar, can cause damage to the eye blood vessels which eventually impairs vision. To lower the risks of the onset of Diabetic Retinopathy and vision impairment, keep your blood pressure at around 140/80 or below.
Normal blood pressure is as important as controlled blood sugar in order to prevent diabetes-related eye complications.
Make sure that you keep your A1C level under 7% to minimize the damage to the blood vessels in the eye caused by high blood sugar. A1C is a test for determining a person’s average blood glucose level.
3) Keep the cholesterol levels in check
LDL or bad cholesterol causes damage to the blood vessels, and therefore, you should keep your LDL in check. You can keep track of the cholesterol levels in your body through a blood test.
There are many ways how you can lower the cholesterol levels in your body. The most effective ways are to exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, and eat healthy foods – all of which have been discussed in the points following below.
4) Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is the best way to control blood sugar and pressure. When you exercise regularly, the oxygen content in the blood increases. This way, the blood vessels (including in the eyes) become healthy.
Exercising regularly doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym and lift weights. Simple cardio such as running, jogging, brisk walking, swimming, dancing, and cycling for at least half an hour every day is sufficient for staying healthy.
5) Drink plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water every day is another great way to manage diabetes and lower the risk of eye complications associated with the disease. Just like regular exercise, drinking water every day keeps the nerves and blood vessels healthy.
According to Diabetes.co.uk, people with diabetes stand at a greater risk of dehydration due to high blood glucose levels in the body. The kidneys attempt to remove the excess glucose and excrete as urine. During this process, the water content in the blood decreases. Failure to replenishing for a prolonged period of time can cause dehydration which eventually impairs the blood vessels.
6) Eat only healthy foods
Eating healthy foods is the single best way to maintain a good eye health. People with diabetes, in specific, should stick to a healthy and balanced diet to control cholesterol, blood sugar and pressure.
Healthy and organic foods such as fresh vegetables, colourful fruits, and lean fish and meat contain all the essential nutrients which keep the body organs healthy, including the eyes. If you have diabetes, then you shouldn’t eat unhealthy foods such as packaged foods, processed meats, carbonated drinks, and deep fried snacks.
The best way to maintain a healthy and balanced diet is to consult with your doctor or nutritionist.
7) Quit smoking and alcohol consumption
Smoking and alcohol consumption is dreadful for anyone, but especially for people with diabetes as they have high blood glucose levels than that of a non-smoking person with diabetes.
This makes it more difficult for them to control their disease which puts them at a greater risk of diabetic eye complications and other diseases. If you have diabetes and you smoke/ drink alcohol, you should quit them as soon as possible.
8) Have an eye exam once a year
Diabetic eye complications such as Diabetic Retinopathy goes undetected, and the worst part is it cannot be treated. However, the eye complication can be prevented and regular eye check-up is the best and the only way to diagnose the symptoms.
Have a complete eye exam every year. This way, you will be able to track the changes in the eyes/vision, and the symptoms associated with Diabetic Retinopathy. If you have diabetes and don’t get your eye checked regularly, the odds are great that you’ll be diagnosed with the eye complication after it has already worsened.
The most common type of eye exam is dilated eye exam. During the exam, the doctor dilates the pupil(s) using special eye drops to check the early signs of damage to the blood vessels.
9) Monitor changes in the vision and similar symptoms
If you are new to diabetes, then you may experience slight changes in vision. Although this is common for most people who are diagnosed with diabetes, you shouldn’t take it for granted.
Instead, monitor the changes in your vision – whether it worsens or stays the same. Stay alert of symptoms associated with diabetic eye complications such as deteriorating blurry vision, partial or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes, flashes of light appearing in normal vision, and seeing black spots.
If you experience any of these symptoms, then you should see a doctor immediately as worsening of Diabetic Retinopathy can cause permanent blindness.
Get your eyes checked today
If you have diabetes and want to take care of your eye health, then get you eye assessed at Disha Eye Hospital – a leading eye hospital in Kolkata. At Disha Eye Hospital, you can get the best Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataract, and Glaucoma treatment in Kolkata.