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Each November is diabetes awareness month. If you are one of the more than thirty million Americans who are affected by this disease, your eyes can be greatly impacted. Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts are just three of the eye diseases that people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing.

  • Diabetic retinopathy: Caused by damage to blood vessels in the tissue of the back of the eye.
  • Cataracts: Clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye.
  • Glaucoma: A condition that damages your eyes optic nerves.

Tips to Preserve Vision

Follow these tips to make sure your vision is preserved for years to come.

  1. Keep your blood sugar under control. High blood sugar for long periods can damage small blood vessels that take important nutrients and oxygen to the nerves and other parts of the eye. Keeping your blood glucose in normal range by eating a healthy diet, medication, and physical activity can help your save your vision.
    • Before a meal: 80-130 mg/dl.
    • Two hours after the start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dl.
  2. Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can also contribute to poor eye health. Regularly monitoring these two levels and keeping them under control not only will help your eye health but also your overall health.
  3. Stop smoking. Smoking only enhances your risk for developing diabetes-related eye disease as well as other chronic illnesses. Smoking makes you twice as likely to develop a diabetic eye disease as a non-smoker. Not starting at all will ensure good eye health now and in the future.
  4. Incorporate physical activity. Being physically active is not only good for your eyes but also for your diabetes. Ask your health care provider before you begin if you have not engaged in any physical activity lately. You should aim for 30 minutes, three to five days a week.
  5. Get an eye exam. Even if you are not experiencing any problems with your vision, it is recommended that diabetics get a yearly eye exam. Remember in its early stages, diabetic eye disease often has no symptoms. A dilated eye exam from your eye doctor can check for damage before noticeable changes occur.

If caught early, there are effective treatments to help preserve good vision. Actively manage your diabetes along with your eye doctor so that you can reduce your risk of eye disease.

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