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.
Knowing the right choices to make can help prevent or effectively manage diabetes. The professionals at CHI Memorial’s Diabetes and Nutrition Center can help you wade through the choices and make the best decisions to protect your health. Our comprehensive team of diabetes and nutrition specialists provides counseling and education for a variety of conditions, including type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, hypertension and other conditions. They’ll partner with you and your referring physician to develop a personalized treatment plan.
Take action today by calling (423) 495-7970.