Diabetes is a treacherous disease. It harms many things including one of your most valuable senses - the sense of sight. There are ways, however, that you can follow to protect and prevent damage to your vision.
Doctor Elizabeth Seaquist, an endocrinologist at the University of Minnesota said that the key to preserving eye health lies in keeping the blood sugar and blood pressure at a normal level. She further added that it is critically important for diabetics to have better control of their sugar intake if they want to reduce the risk of eye problems.
High Sugar Level Damages Eye Health
High blood sugar level puts the tiny vessels in the retina at risk. These tiny vessels are nerve layers responsible for relaying the images to your brain. People with high blood sugar level often suffer from diabetic retinopathy, a case where the retina leaks fluid. Without the right precaution and care, diabetic retinopathy eventually leads to impaired vision then total loss of eyesight.
There are typically four eye diseases that threaten diabetics. These are diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts.
1. Diabetic Retinopathy
About one in three people with diabetes whose 40 years old and above have signs of diabetic retinopathy. It’s one of the most common causes of blindness among diabetic people. Earlier detection means decreased chances of vision loss.
In its early stage, a person with diabetic retinopathy will have weak blood vessels. The vessel will bulge and the liquid leaks into the retina. In later stages, the blood vessels eventually close off causing new blood vessels to grow in the retina. These newly formed vessels cause the blockage of vision.
2. Diabetic Macular Edema
The macula is responsible for reading, driving, and recognizing faces. Increased blood sugar causes swelling to the macula. If not treated or prevented using total eye care, it causes loss of sharp vision leading to partial blindness. Most often, people with signs of diabetic retinopathy also develop macular edema.
Glaucoma is a damage in the optic nerves, the same nerves responsible for connecting the information from the eyes to the brain.
As people age, the lenses of the age become cloudy. These cloudy lenses are called cataracts. People with diabetes, however, develop cataracts even at an earlier age. According to research, the cataract build up is due to the high glucose levels deposits in the lenses of the eyes.
Prevention Against Eye Damages
People suffering from diabetes must have a proper total eye care to prevent eye damages. They are more susceptible for eye problems, hence, advanced eye care is a necessity. Here are some of the preventive measures to ensure total eye care.
Symptoms for eye damages aren’t felt right away. Most times, people suffering eye problems in its early stages won’t be able to spot the differences immediately. It’s important to see an ophthalmologist to get a dilated eye exam. This exam enables your doctor to examine the retina and optic nerve and check for any damages. With regular eye health care, your doctor will be able to spot the problem and will have treatment at the earliest possible time.
Regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol level
Blood sugar isn’t the only cause here, blood pressure and cholesterol level are also factors for eye damage. Increased blood pressure can also cause changes in the retina, this condition is referred to as hypertensive retinopathy. It’s a condition where the retinal arteries or veins are blocked and if unnoticed, it causes blindness. Doctors spot hypertensive retinopathy by checking out any cholesterol-containing plaques in the retinal blood vessels, they look for thickened or thinned vessels.
Take care of your diet, cut back on caffeine, limit your alcohol intake, cut back on the sodium intake, and speak with your doctor regularly.
Eating healthy is another way to ensure total eye care. Appreciate watery vegetables such as cucumber, spinach, or broccoli. Fill your plate with a quarter of meat, fish, egg, tofu, nuts, or other food high in protein. Milk, yogurt, fruit cup, or fresh fruit juice are also helpful to balance the meal. There’s no need to let go of fats, there are healthy fats that you can have but only small amounts so you can still enjoy seeds and avocados. Regardless of any symptoms, eating right is one of the most effective measures against visual loss.
When to seek professional help
There’s no better time than right now. Symptoms for eye problems don’t usually occur until it's in the late stage. It is important to have regular eye checkups to decrease the risks for eye problems. It’s best to disclose everything to the doctor about all the symptoms and the medications you are using. This would help them gauge any treatment plan that you specifically need. Don’t wait for the blurred vision. Get annual eye screens or as often as the doctor recommends.
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