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Eye Care for People With Diabetes

To keep your vision sharp, you’ll want to take especially good care of your health so you can prevent problems related to diabetes.

Over time, high blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels in your eyes. That can lead to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar can also lead to cataracts and glaucoma, which occur earlier and more frequently in people with diabetes.

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Use these 7 strategies to manage your diabetes and protect your eyes:

  1. Schedule appointments with your eye doctor at least once a year so that any problem can be detected early and treated. During your exam, your eye doctor will use special drops to widen (“dilate”) your pupils and check the blood vessels in your eyes for early signs of damage.
  2. Stay in control of your blood glucose. If you keep your blood sugar levels steady, you can slow the damage to the tiny blood vessels in your eyes. Several times a year, you should have an A1c blood test. It shows your glucose levels over the past 2 or 3 months. Your result should be around 7% or less.
  3. Keep your blood pressure controlled. High blood pressure alone can lead to eye disease. If you have high blood pressure and diabetes, you need to be even more careful about how you manage your conditions. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure at every visit. For most people with diabetes, it should be less than 140/80.
  4. Check on your cholesterol levels. All it takes is a blood test to find out how much “bad” (LDL) and “good” (HDL) cholesterol you have. Too much LDL is linked to blood vessel damage.
  5. Eat for wellness. Go for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. If that’s a big change for you, you can get ideas and encouragement from a nutritionist. You can also ask your doctor’s advice about when you should eat and how much is OK if you take insulin.
  6. Don’t smoke. Smoking causes problems with your blood vessels, which makes you more likely to develop eye trouble. It’s not easy to quit, so don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for help. Or go to a support group or quit-smoking program.
  7. Move more. Exercise can have a big influence on blood sugar. If you use insulin or medication to lower your blood sugar, ask your doctor when you should check your levels before and during your workouts. Also ask what type of workout you should do.

 

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