Diabetes is a chronic health condition that results in high blood sugar levels. This condition can worsen your overall health and wreak havoc on your heart, kidneys, nerves, and eyes. People who poorly control their blood sugar often develop serious eye problems that may result in blindness. Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss for people ages 20 to 74 years old.
Sure, it is very scary to become blind, but with proper care, diabetic-related eye problems are preventable. Below are 6 tips that can help you save your vision when you have diabetes.
1. Get a regular eye screening
Regular eye screening is the best way to preserve eye health when you have diabetes. With diabetes, it can be hard to tell when exactly you develop eye disease. In most cases, only a doctor can diagnose the problems early enough to treat them successfully. Although doctors can treat diabetic eye problems in the early stages, they can also help prevent possible vision problems.
If you regularly postpone the visit to the eye doctor, make a step in the direction of good eye health and schedule an appointment with the ophthalmologist.
2. Take medications as prescribed
To prevent diabetes-related health complications, it is important to take all medications according to your doctor’s prescriptions. Skipping the doses or taking meds at inappropriate times can worsen your well-being in the long run.
Some people skip medications or reduce doses because of side effects. If your diabetic medications make you feel worse, let your doctor know about it. The doctor can prescribe another dosage or medications.
3. Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor in advance
It is important to visit an eye doctor regularly to preserve eye health. Whether you have diabetic eye problems or not, getting an eye screening once in a while will not help prevent eye conditions. You need to visit an ophthalmologist at least every year. If you already have diabetic eye conditions, annual appointments can be not enough. In this case, you need to have at least two screenings in a year because diabetic eye problems develop very fast.
Regular eye screening can decrease your risk of diabetes-related blindness by 95 percent.
4. Stay physically active
This doesn’t mean that you need to become a professional athlete to preserve your eye health. But moderate daily activity can help you protect eye health. Exercises and physical activity throughout the day help with insulin resistance. Your muscles need more sugar to walk and lift weights. When you perform exercises, your muscles take sugar from the blood and convert it into energy. This helps keep your blood sugar more stable and prevents potential eye damage.
5. Control your blood sugar
This is the most obvious and the most important recommendation to prevent diabetic eye problems. Managing your blood sugar slows and prevents the onset of eye diseases. Sure, there are no sugar levels that can prevent eye problems for sure. But the lower your blood sugar, the lower your risk of serious eye diseases and vision loss.
Controlling your blood sugar may also help you prevent other common diabetes complications like nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, kidney issues, and poor wound healing.
6. Stop smoking
Smoking is bad for everyone, but especially for people with diabetes. Using tobacco products makes managing diabetes and regulating insulin levels more difficult. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes decrease the effectiveness of insulin. For this reason, smokers often need higher doses of insulin and frequently have serious complications like eye diseases.
Moreover, smoking affects the blood flow to your eyes. This can impair the function of eye vessels and make you more susceptible to the development of eye problems and blindness.