American Diabetes Month: Preventing and Treating Diabetic Eye Disease

As many as one half of all diabetics are living with diabetic eye disease. Although diabetic retinopathy is the result of a medical condition, it is possible to help prevent the disease by making healthy lifestyle choices. Individuals with diabetes may be at greater risk of developing diabetic retinopathy if they eat an unhealthy diet, live a sedentary lifestyle, have high blood pressure and cholesterol, or smoke.

If you are a diabetic, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetic eye disease by following these tips:

Properly manage your diabetes. Eat a healthy diet and make physical exercise a priority. Regular, moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, can reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. It’s also important to closely monitor your blood sugar. Too much fluctuation in your blood glucose levels can affect your vision.

Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check. High blood pressure and cholesterol elevate your risk of developing eye disease. Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol with a healthy diet and regular exercise to lose weight and manage your stress.

Quit smoking. Smoking and other tobacco use increases risk of a number of health conditions, including diabetic retinopathy. Enroll in a smoking cessation program or ask your doctor for advice on how to quit smoking.

Maintain yearly eye exams. Early detection is key. Keep up with your yearly eye exams so that your doctor can diagnose any early signs of diabetic retinopathy before it’s too late. If you notice sudden changes in your vision, contact your doctor right away.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy
Proliferative retinopathy can be treated with laser surgery to shrink the abnormal blood vessels. Treatment is most successful if performed before the blood vessels begin to leak blood into the eye. If the blood vessels have already begun to leak, laser treatments may still be possible, depending on the amount of bleeding. If the bleeding is severe, a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy may be necessary. 

Diabetics can live with diabetic retinopathy for a long time before noticing any changes in vision or symptoms and noticeable symptoms often do not appear until significant damage to the eye has already occurred. If you have diabetes, regular visits to ​The Eye Center for checkups are important to avoid problems and vision loss. Your eye doctor may be able to detect abnormal or leaky blood vessels caused by early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Early detection and treatment may save your vision

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