Managing your diabetes is essential because unregulated glucose levels can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness. If your blood sugar remains chronically elevated, it can damage the blood vessels in your eyes leading to diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma.
Although many therapies and procedures can treat diabetic eye disease, the best way to protect your vision is to manage your diabetes. Here are five ways that you can help control diabetes and prevent diabetic eye disease:
1. Visit Your Physician Care Team Regularly
Managing diabetes is a team effort, which includes you, your primary care physician, your ophthalmologist, your dentist, and maybe even a dietician or social worker. You should plan on visiting your care team at least twice per year.
2. Take All of Your Medications Exactly as Prescribed
Be sure to take your medication every day at the proper time. Read all medication labels carefully and pay attention to:
- What time of day you should take your medication
- Whether you should take it with or without food
- How often you should take your medication
- Whether there are any warnings associated with the medication
- What foods, activities, or other medication you should avoid when taking a particular medicine
3. Exercise Daily
Make a habit of exercising 60 minutes per day at a moderate level of intensity. This will help control your blood pressure, prevent weight gain and build cardiovascular endurance.
4. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet with Low Glycemic Index Foods
Glycemic index measures how a carbohydrate affects blood glucose levels. You should eat foods that have a low glycemic index (55 or less). Low glycemic foods include nonstarchy vegetables, lentils, dry beans, most fruit and whole grain bread. These foods will help stabilize your blood sugar and promote weight loss.
5. Call Your Ophthalmologist
Finally, be sure to visit your ophthalmologist regularly. Comprehensive eye exams include dilation of the pupil to allow your eye doctor to view and assess the health of your retina, optic nerve and retinal blood vessels. Diabetic eye disease often has no symptoms in the early stages, so frequent monitoring is the only pathway to early detection and immediate intervention.
Our eye physicians are board-certified, and they are experienced in preventing and treating diabetic eye disease. Click here to use our Find a Physician locator tool. Just type in your zip code to see a list of eye doctors in your area who are accepting new patients.