Eye Spy with My Diabetic Eye: Tips for Keeping Your Vision in Check

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and earlier this month we discussed one of the serious eye disorders that can result from diabetes: diabetic retinopathy, or DR. We said that anyone who has diabetes can develop DR — but also that it is largely preventable. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about 90% of vision loss from diabetes can be prevented.

According to the Mayo Clinic, to reduce your risk of getting diabetic retinopathy you should:

• Manage your diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, each week. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.

• Follow the doctor’s instructions. You may need to check and record your blood sugar level several times a day — or more frequently if you’re ill or under stress. Ask your doctor how often you should test your blood sugar.

• Ask your doctor about a glycosylated hemoglobin test. Also known as a hemoglobin A1C test, it reflects your average blood sugar level for the two- to three-month period before the test. For most people with diabetes, the A1C goal is to be under 7%.

• Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed, too.

• Quit smoking any kind of tobacco. This is important — smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including diabetic retinopathy. If you struggle with this, ask your doctor to help you quit.

• Pay attention to vision changes. Contact your Atlantic Eye doctor right away if your vision suddenly changes or becomes blurry, spotty, or hazy.

Remember, diabetes doesn’t necessarily lead to vision loss. Taking an active role in your diabetes management can go a long way toward preventing complications. And if you have not had a dilated eye exam with an ophthalmologist, it is crucial to get one now. Be sure never to skip the follow-up exams that your ophthalmologist recommends.

The sooner you work to manage your diabetes and other health conditions, the better. And, even if you’ve struggled in the past to manage your health, taking better care of yourself now can protect your eyes for the future. It’s never too late to begin!