November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month! This is a great time to get your eyes checked if you have diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes. Let’s take a closer look at what diabetic eye disease is and how you can prevent it.
What is Diabetic Eye Disease?
Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that can occur in people with diabetes. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) and lead to partial or complete vision loss.
Diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina, which can lead to diabetic retinopathy—the most common form of diabetic eye disease. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the tiny blood vessels in the retina become damaged and leak fluid or blood. This can cause vision loss or even blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among working-age adults.
Cataracts are another common complication of diabetes. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, making it difficult to see. While cataracts are common as people get older, they can develop sooner in diabetics.
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve, which carries information from your eyes to your brain. People with diabetes are at increased risk for glaucoma.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease?
Diabetic eye disease often has no early warning signs or symptoms. That’s why it’s so important for people with diabetes to have regular comprehensive dilated eye exams.
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam at Nova Vision Center, our doctors will examine your eyes for signs of diabetic eye disease and other conditions.
How Can I Prevent Diabetic Eye Disease?
Get your eyes checked regularly
People with diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is an exam where your doctor widens your pupils so that he or she can get a good look at your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage. During this exam, your doctor will also check your intraocular pressure (IOP). Your IOP is a measure of the pressure inside your eyes. If it’s too high, it could be a sign that you have glaucoma.
Control your blood sugar levels
Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or delay the onset of diabetic eye disease.
Smoking doubles your risk for developing cataracts and triples your risk for developing diabetic retinopathy compared to nonsmokers with diabetes. If you smoke and have diabetes, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health—and your vision!
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet helps you control your blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight—both of which are important for preventing diabetic eye disease. A healthy diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources such as fish and poultry.
Exercise can help lower blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight.
Keep your cholesterol and blood pressure under control
High cholesterol and high blood pressure can damage blood vessels throughout your body—including those in your eyes! Keeping these numbers under control helps reduce your risk for developing diabetic retinopathy and other types of diabetic eye disease.
Schedule an Eye Exam at Nova Vision Center in Bailey’s Crossroads
Diabetic eye disease is a serious complication of diabetes—but it’s one that you can take steps to prevent! By getting regular comprehensive dilated eye exams, controlling your blood sugar levels, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure under control, you can help keep your eyes healthy!
If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, take a positive step to prevent diabetic eye disease and schedule an eye exam at Nova Vision Center today.