November is National Diabetes Month in the United States. Diabetes is a growing health concern that affects more than 30 million people across the country, according to a report available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also estimates that another 80 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing the disease within the next five years.
Our specialists at Smart Eye Care are happy to shine a spotlight on the very real threat diabetes poses to your vision. When you have diabetes, your eyesight can be gravely impacted by several diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, early-onset cataracts, diabetic macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
There are, however, practical steps you can take throughout the year to help prevent these conditions from stealing your view of your loved ones and the world around you.
1. Come in for a dilated eye exam at least once a year
If your eyes already show changes due to diabetes, you may need to see your Smart Eye Care ophthalmologist more frequently. Generally, however, it’s recommended that you have a comprehensive diabetes eye exam once a year, even if you haven’t noticed any problems with your vision.
Diabetic eye diseases typically have few symptoms until the condition has advanced beyond the early stages. During a dilated eye exam, your ophthalmologist can identify even subtle signs that diabetes is threatening your sight.
When caught early, many effective treatments exist that can prevent diabetic eye disease from worsening and protect your vision.
2. Manage your blood sugar like a pro
Over time, elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels damage the tiny blood vessels that provide oxygen and other vital nutrients to the retina, nerves, and other soft-tissue structures within your eyes. This often begins during the prediabetic phase, when your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough for a formal diagnosis of diabetes.
Most sight-threatening diabetic eye diseases begin with damage to these blood vessels. Keeping your blood sugar normal through diet, exercise, and prescribed medications can keep your blood vessels healthy and your eyesight intact.
3. Control your blood pressure and keep a lid on your cholesterol
Like other blood vessels in your body, the delicate vessels in your eyes react negatively to both elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly and taking steps to control both can protect the health of your eyes.
4. Eat healthily and exercise regularly
Healthy nutrition and routine exercise help control your diabetes and greatly benefit your eye health. Your diabetes care team can help you create a meal plan that works for you and gives you the energy required to maintain an active lifestyle.
5. Seek help early
If you notice changes in your vision, don’t wait for a yearly exam to come in to see your Smart Eye Care ophthalmologist. The change may signal a serious issue that requires immediate medical attention. For instance, if you’re seeing flashes of light or increased floaters (spots) in your visual field or have the sensation that a curtain has been pulled over your eyes, you may be experiencing a retinal detachment, which is a medical emergency.
For top-rated diabetic eye care designed to protect and preserve your vision throughout the year, schedule a visit at Smart Eye Care today. Call one of our offices in Brooklyn, New York, or book your appointment online.