Over 26 million Americans have diabetes. This is over 8% of our entire population and this number continues to rise. Furthermore, diabetes has also been named the leading cause of new cases of blindness in Americans between the ages of 20-74.
Those who have diabetes often find themselves facing a number of complications due to the diagnoses for example, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy are 3 eye diseases many diabetics will be faced with during their life. Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye diseases in America and can lead to blindness. Caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina, in some people who have the disease, these blood vessels may swell and leak eye fluid while in others, abnormal blood vessels will grow on the surface of the retina. Both of these symptoms will impact vision and if left untreated, may cause blindness. Read more about how diabetic retinopathy works here.
Those who have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy maybegin to notice changes in the vision in one or both eyes. As the disease progresses, severe vision loss and blindness may occur. While this may seem overwhelming and scary to anyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes, simply having this disease DOES NOT mean that you are destined to be diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy or lose your vision. There are 4 ways you can do your part to protect your vision if you have diabetes.
1. If you have diabetes get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.
We cannot stress enough in any case how important being proactive about your vision is no matter what conditions you have. The older you get and the more health conditions you face however, the more important it becomes for you to schedule these appointments with your eye care specialist.
2. Avoid any activities that may increase the pressure in your eye.
While part of controlling diabetes is being physically active, if you have diabetic retinopathy, it is important that you do what you can to avoid pressure buildups in your eyes. Sports and activities including body building, long distance running and doing things that put you upside down like handstands may raise the pressure in your eye and cause damage.
3. Be sure to discuss any changes in your diabetes with your ophthalmologist.
Keeping your eye care specialist informed as to any changes will assist them in be more aware of any risks you may be facing and help them know more about what to look for during your eye exam.
4. Keep your blood sugar levels under control.
This can be the most difficult aspect of avoiding vision loss. Reducing carbohydrates, controlling your diet and taking the medications you need to control your blood sugar are all key to avoiding many complications with your diabetes including diabetic retinopathy.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, you still may not lose your sight. The key is prevention. Taking care of yourself and being healthier is the first step to avoiding vision loss.
Alpine Eye Care is an eye doctor in Northern Michigan and is taking new patients. If you have more questions about this or other topics or would like to schedule an appoint, we invite you to contact us today at 877.SEE.2020.