Fortunately, you can take steps to avoid diabetic eye disease. Not only is it preventable, but if caught early, an ophthalmologist can treat it to reverse the damage or at least halt its progress.
VISIT YOUR EYE DOCTOR AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR
All adults who wear contacts or glasses should visit their eye doctors at least once every two years, if not annually. People living with diabetes should make an annual appointment for a screening to test for diabetic retinopathy and vision problems. Just getting screened for the problem will not prevent diabetic eye disease or other vision problems, but it ensures that your doctor can detect problems early on for the best possible treatments.
KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON BLOOD SUGAR AND BLOOD PRESSURE LEVELS
Relying heavily on insulin or medication to keep your blood sugar levels in check is incredibly risky and can lead to a weakened immune system, bacterial infections, and vision loss. Even if you bring your blood sugar back into check, prolonged exposure to blood with high glucose levels can seriously damage your retinal cells.
You should also keep close tabs on your blood pressure. While high blood pressure does not cause diabetic retinopathy, experts have noted a link between high blood pressure and diabetic eye disease progressing to more advanced stages with greater vision loss.
Keep your blood pressure in a healthy target range, get regular exercise, eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, and regularly check your glucose levels to help save your vision.
GO TO THE EYE DOCTOR IF YOU NOTICE ANY VISION CHANGES
Any vision changes at all could be signs of diabetic retinopathy. In particular, if you notice flashes and floaters, pain, pressure, or blurred vision, make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately. These are all warning signs of diabetic retinopathy, and the sooner you seek treatment, the more effective it will be.
Smoking negatively affects a number of issues linked with diabetes, including increased blood pressure. While smoking is not directly linked with diabetic eye disease, it is linked with glaucoma and other health issues. If you’re living with diabetes, and you are serious about keeping your vision, it’s time to quit smoking.
TALK TO YOUR EYE DOCTOR ABOUT STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES
Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, you may want to talk with your eye doctor about recommended exercises and activities. Some high-intensity activities, such as weight lifting and sprinting, put a lot of strain on your body, including your eyes and can exacerbate diabetic retinopathy and other eye problems. If you’re concerned about diabetic eye disease, get your eye doctor’s clearance before starting any new workout regimens.