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If you suffer from diabetes, you may be at higher risk for experiencing other health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and sleep apnea. But what many don’t know, is that diabetes can affect your vision and eye health as well, and increase the risk for eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. However, if you take steps now to manage your condition and become healthier, you can prevent yourself from developing diabetes-related eye diseases and maintain your vision for years to come.

Here are the top five ways to prevent the development of diabetes-related eye diseases.

1. UNDERGO REGULAR EYE EXAMINATIONS

Regardless of whether or not you have diabetes, you should have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist at least once per year. A comprehensive eye examination could reveal whether you have any eye or vision problems — including those that you may not be aware of. In most cases, diabetic eye diseases in their early stages will not reveal symptoms, which is why you need an eye doctor to screen for signs of nerve damage. Undergoing regular eye exams will allow you to start treatment while an eye disease is in its earliest stage.

2. CONTROL AND REGULATE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR

Having high blood sugar levels on a consistent basis could cause permanent damage to the blood vessels in your eyes. High blood sugar can also cause you to experience blurry vision as a result of changes to the shape of your eye’s lens. However, you can reverse problems with blurry vision if you are able to successfully control and regulate your body’s blood sugar levels. Work with your primary care physician on establishing a diet that will naturally help control your blood sugar.

3. LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE AND CHOLESTEROL LEVELS

Those with diabetes often suffer from high blood pressure and high LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. In most cases, hypertension and high cholesterol can be managed through exercise, diet, and medications prescribed by your primary care physician. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are also associated with vision loss and eye diseases.

4. STOP SMOKING IMMEDIATELY

Not only does smoking increase your blood pressure, but it also increases the risk for eye diseases that include diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and uveitis — all of which can lead to vision loss if left untreated. Quit smoking immediately to reduce your risk for vision problems, and consult with your healthcare provider if you need help quitting.

5. EXERCISE ON A REGULAR BASIS

Exercising on a regular basis is great for everyone — especially diabetics, since exercise helps maintain a healthy body weight and regulates blood sugar. In regards to eye health, studies have shown that exercising regularly can reduce the risk for most eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, or consult with your healthcare provider to determine how much exercise you need based on your current health condition.

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