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Diabetes and Eye Care

March 19, 2021 Posted in: Primary Care

Diabetes is a deadly condition that can wreak havoc on your body’s systems – including your eyesight. Every year, 1.4 million American are diagnosed with diabetes, a condition that results from too much sugar in the blood. People with uncontrolled type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of eye complications and conditions that may lead to blindness.  

Eye complications from diabetes range from glaucoma, where pressure in the eye causes a gradual loss of vision, to cataracts, where the eye’s clear lens clouds and blocks your sight. Diabetic retinopathy refers to all the disorders of the retina that are caused by uncontrolled diabetes.

Are you at risk?

The longer you’ve lived with diabetes – whether type 1 or type 2, the more likely you are to have eye-related problems like retinopathy. Your blood sugar control, blood pressure levels, how long you’ve had diabetes and genetic factors influence whether you’ll develop the condition and how severe it might be. When blood sugars are controlled or at optimal levels, the less likely someone is to have retinopathy, or they may experience milder forms of the disease.  

Exercise for eyes and vision

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise at least five days a week or a total of 150 minutes. Moderate intensity means you can talk, but not sing, through your workout or activity. If you’re just getting started, begin with 10 minutes a day and increase a few minutes each week. Regular exercise benefits your heart and blood vessels – including those that feed your retina and optic nerve. 

Other ways to ward off diabetes eye complications is to get a yearly comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist – including a glaucoma test, cataract test and a dilated eye exam. More effective treatments are available when these conditions are found early. Stopping smoking and eating a well-balanced diet including vitamins A, C, and E, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene and zinc can also help decrease your risk of progressive eye issues. Lastly, you can protect your eyes with sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.

Diabetes support

Knowing the right choices to make can help prevent or effectively manage diabetes. Talk with your primary care physician or provider. 

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