The longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy – but there is much you can do to promote healthy vision.
Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.
You may need to check and record your blood sugar level at least several times a day – or more if you’re ill or under stress. Careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that your blood sugar level remains within your target range.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol increase the risk of vision loss. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed as well.
If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your eye doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including diabetic retinopathy. Talk to your eye doctor about ways to stop smoking or to stop using other types of tobacco.
If you’re stressed, it’s easy to abandon your usual diabetes management routine. The hormones your body may produce in response to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from working properly, which only makes matters worse. To take control, set limits. Prioritize your tasks. Learn relaxation techniques. Get plenty of sleep.
A yearly dilated eye exam is an important part of any diabetes treatment plan. Contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or if your vision becomes blurry, spotty or hazy.
Remember, diabetes doesn’t necessarily doom you to poor vision. Taking an active role in diabetes management can go a long way toward preventing complications.