How to Prevent Diabetic Eye Disease

How to Prevent Diabetic Eye Disease

More than 37 million Americans have diabetes, including nearly 9 million people who don’t even know they have it. Without proper management, diabetes can cause many serious medical problems, including problems with your vision.

In fact, diabetes has been linked with several serious eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic macular edema, and diabetic retinopathy. Collectively, these diseases are referred to as diabetic eye disease.

At Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts in Bellmore, Great Neck, and Huntington, New York, our team helps patients manage their diabetic eye disease and prevent vision loss with custom care to reduce each person’s risk factors. In this post, learn how to reduce your risk of developing diabetic eye disease.

Quick facts about diabetic eye disease

Diabetes is a chronic disease that happens when your body doesn’t manage blood sugar (glucose) properly. When glucose levels are high, that extra blood sugar can damage your organs, including your eyes. 

Specifically, elevated glucose damages tiny blood vessels inside your eyes. These vessels can wind up leaking fluid and causing swelling inside your eye, especially in the light-sensitive retina at the back of your eye. At the same time, new, weak blood vessels may begin to form, blocking vision, causing additional fluid leakage, and increasing eye pressure.

Unfortunately, eye complications may not be evident until you begin to lose your vision. The good news is there are some things you can do to prevent diabetic eye disease and reduce your risk of vision loss.

Preventing diabetic eye disease

Our team helps patients prevent diabetic eye disease through a combination of lifestyle changes and medical therapies, including these six important steps.

Watch what you eat

With diabetes, it’s vitally important to watch your diet. Avoid sugary foods and foods high in carbs. Focus on lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. “Eating the rainbow” — eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables — is a good policy for improving overall eye health.

Get regular exercise

Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, so your body uses glucose more efficiently. Plus, it helps you maintain a healthy weight. Aim for about a half hour of moderate aerobic activity for at least five days each week. Walking, biking, and swimming are all great options.

Stick to your diabetes management plan

If you have diabetes, you should have a diabetes management plan focused on helping you manage your glucose and risk factors. Plans include important steps like regular blood sugar monitoring, use of insulin when appropriate, and healthy lifestyle changes.

Know your numbers

In addition to monitoring your glucose, you should also keep an eye on your cholesterol level and your blood pressure, which can also play a role in diabetes and its management. High cholesterol and hypertension can both affect blood vessels, including the vessels inside your eyes.

Quit smoking 

Smoking damages blood vessels, too, which means it can exacerbate any damage associated with high glucose levels. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it comes with major health benefits. You can find support and assistance on this website.

Have regular eye exams

Regular eye exams are important no matter what, but they’re really important if you have diabetes. During your exam, our team will look for early signs of diabetic eye disease so you can begin treatment as soon as possible. We may even recommend laser treatments aimed at helping prevent the progression of eye diseases and the vision loss they can cause.

Schedule your diabetic eye exam today

If you have diabetes, comprehensive eye exams should be a regular part of your health routine. Annual exams help our team spot problems early, so together, we can take steps to help you preserve your vision.

To schedule your diabetic eye exam, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts today.

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