Did you know that if you have diabetes you’re 20 percent more likely to develop glaucoma and 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts? While people with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness, there are things you can do each day to lower your chances of developing eye problems.
Everyday Eye Care
Monitor blood sugar – It’s always important to keep your blood sugar under control when you have diabetes, but it’s especially important when you’re keeping your eye health in mind. Why? The retina of the eye receives and translates light to an image. The macula, behind the retina, helps aid in seeing fine details. The macula is nourished by blood vessels, and if the blood vessels don’t get nourishment, you run the risk of developing conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, which causes impaired vision and can also lead to blindness.
Control hemoglobin A1C level below seven – This level indicates the accumulative blood glucose level for the past three months, and it should be controlled below seven in patients with diabetes. The risk of diabetic retinopathy increases significantly if A1C is higher than seven.
Lower blood pressure and cholesterol – High blood pressure and high cholesterol make it more difficult to control diabetes and increase the risk of diabetic eye diseases.
Quit smoking – Smoking makes you 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, but if you already have diabetes and smoke, it can make it harder to control the symptoms.
Get annual, dilated eye exam – If you have diabetes, it’s recommended that you see an eye care provider (ophthalmologist or optometrist) at least once a year for a dilated eye exam. This exam allows the doctor to look inside your eye, allowing early detection for conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
When To Go To The Doctor
In addition to yearly visits, you also should visit your eye doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- Trouble reading
- Seeing double
- One or both eyes hurt
- Persistent tired eyes
- Feeling of pressure in the eye(s)
- Seeing spots
- Straight lines don’t look straight
Get the facts on diabetic eye health, and check out our infographic.
Join the conversation: What do you do to help monitor your diabetes? Let us know in the comments below.