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Diabetic retinopathy is a frequent complication of diabetes. An elevation in blood sugar can damage the delicate blood vessels inside the eye, causing them to leak, bleed and become blocked. The damage from diabetic retinopathy is usually permanent. Diabetes can also contribute to changes in nearsightedness, farsightedness and premature presbyopia (the inability to focus on close objects with age). The disease may also contribute to the onset of cataracts, glaucoma, strabismus (lack of eye alignment) and decreased corneal sensitivity.
Maintaining control of your diabetes is crucial. Regular visits to your physician are necessary, along with adherence to your doctor’s instructions on diet, exercise and medication. Following the right steps to maintaining your diabetes can greatly reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Protect your eye health. Follow the tips below to take care of your eyes if you have diabetes.
SCHEDULE REGULAR, COMPREHENSIVE EYE EXAMS.
Talk to your Midwest Eye Consultants optometrist about how often you should schedule a dilated eye exam. This type of exam allows for better visualization of the retinas, which can give an indication of the presence of a diabetic eye condition. Our doctors can handle your changing eyes with new glasses or contact lenses. In some cases, surgical procedures may be necessary.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE.
Are you monitoring your blood sugar regularly? Exercising, eating healthy, taking your medication as prescribed by your doctor and monitoring blood sugar regularly are all great steps to controlling your blood sugar and living a healthy lifestyle. According to the ADA (American Diabetes Association), people with uncontrolled blood sugar levels are four times more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.
MONITOR YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE & CHOLESTEROL
Changes in the retina can be due to high blood pressure. This condition is called hypertensive retinopathy. This condition can lead to blockage of retinal arteries or veins, which can ultimately result in the loss of vision. Your doctor will look for tiny cholesterol-containing plaques in the retinal blood vessels as well as other blood vessel changes like narrowing and thickening. Make sure you are monitoring your blood pressure and taking care of your health; cut back on caffeine, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake, reduce sodium in your diet, and see your doctor regularly.
EAT FOR YOUR EYES.
Use the diabetes plate method for healthy meals. Fill half of your plate with watery veggies like kale, spinach, cucumber, brussels sprouts or broccoli. One quarter of your plate should be reserved for meat, fish, poultry, tofu, eggs, nuts or other foods high in protein. Reserve one quarter for breads, starches or grains which includes dry beans and starchy vegetables. Fill one small cup with milk or yogurt and one small cup with fruit, applesauce, or fruit juice. Use healthy fats in small amounts for cooking or include nuts, seeds or avocados. Eating healthy foods will help prevent the conditions that come with diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy.
GET REGULAR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
Exercise is considered an integral part of diabetes therapy. Not only does exercise improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, it helps with flexibility and well-being. However, you should discuss with your doctor to develop an exercise regimen that works for you. For example, patients who have had significant eye complications caused by diabetes are advised to avoid contact sports that could injure the eye further. Moderate-intensity activity, like walking or bicycling, are great options for exercise.
Take care of your eyes. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today and follow these tips to prevent diabetic retinopathy from affecting your life.