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A middle-aged woman removes her glasses and rubs her eyes.
A middle-aged woman removes her glasses and rubs her eyes.
A middle-aged woman removes her glasses and rubs her eyes.

How to take care of your eyes if you have diabetes

Although one of the biggest uncertainties associated with diabetes is the constant fear of impaired sight, a decrease in eyesight, or a potential loss of vision, there are ways around this. If you have diabetes, you are at higher risk of developing certain eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Luckily, you can preserve your vision and reduce your chances of eye disease by taking control of your diabetes management. Although these diseases cannot be cured, but the severity can be reduced by managing your glucose levels and taking the below measures:

Annual eye screenings – The first step in knowing how to take care of signs and symptoms of diabetic eyes is by getting a comprehensive dilated eye screening from your ophthalmologist at least once a year. This allows your ophthalmologist to examine your retina more thoroughly and scan your optic nerves for signs of damage before you notice any noticeable effects yourself.

Meet your doctor often – Even if you are leading the healthiest possible life from your personal efforts, the fact of diabetic eyes remains. This means that you might not instinctively catch certain symptoms that can be gleaned through a professional medical lens. By meeting your doctor at least once a year, and ideally more, you can keep track of your diabetic eyes lead a healthier life. With high glucose or sugar levels comes blurry vision that usually stabilizes with diabetes management. However, high glucose levels can also seriously and irreparably damage your optic nerves, a symptom that may be avoided with frequent visits to relevant doctors.

Avoid high blood pressure and cholesterol levels – Apart from managing glucose levels, it is also important to keep your blood pressure & cholesterol levels at a stable rate. Having high blood pressure and diabetes can lead to an increased risk of diabetic eyes. Keeping both under control by identifying these will not only help your vision but your overall health.

Eating healthy – Eating healthy not only boosts your immunity and helps natural body functioning but also encourages your sugar levels to stabilize, decreasing the possibility of eye disease caused by diabetes. Healthy eating includes protecting your eyes with a well-balanced diet that includes an adequate proportion of foods or supplements that contain vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc can help reduce the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.

Manage glucose levels – By managing your sugar levels, you can slow down damage to your eye’s blood vessels and can decrease the likelihood and intensity of symptoms. According to the American Diabetes Association, it can also help avoid damage caused to the delicate blood vessels in your retina that affects the shape of your eye lens and temporarily causes blurry vision.

Get more exercise – The amount of time you spend moving and the calories you burn in the process have a direct relation to your glucose levels. Exercising regularly can help improve glycemic control, one of the contributing factors in determining how likely you are to develop eye damage. Make an appointment with yourself, a friend, or a personal trainer, to exercise at least three times a week for 60 minutes each day. Alternatively, you can try to fit at least 15-minute bursts of exercise into your schedule.3 If you already suffer from eye problems, ask your doctor or your current fitness center consultant for exercises to avoid and avert any additional strain on your eye’s blood vessels.

With these diabetes management tips in mind, you can take proper care of your eyes and avoid falling into a cycle of constantly treating symptoms. Remember that the most important thing to do is to stay on top of your diabetes, a process that involves constant checks through CGM devices to keep track of your glucose levels and live a healthier life.

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Reference: 3. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2020;43(1):S77–S88.

Disclaimer – Images are for illustration purpose only. No actual patient data. Any person depicted in the photos is a model