Did you know that diabetes can harm your eyes and even cause blindness? Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease and the leading cause of blindness in Americans between 20 and 74 years of age.
Don’t panic, though! There are steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy.
- Get a dilated, diabetic eye exam every year. Many primary care doctors and even medical insurance companies require diabetics to have a comprehensive, dilated, eye exam every single year.
- Visit your optometrist if you notice any sudden changes such as: a sudden decrease in clarity of vision, new spots or floaters that don’t go away. You should keep track of any changes in how well you see to report to your doctor.
- Ask your doctor to send the results of your exam to your primary care doctor after every exam. If any changes need to be made in your care, it is necessary to follow-up with your primary care doctor.
According to the National Eye Institute, early detection of diabetic eye disease can reduce the risk of vision loss by up to 95%!!
Remember these ABC’s to help prevent diabetic eye disease from occurring:
Early stages of diabetic eye disease can occur with few to no symptoms. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are BOTH at risk of diabetic retinopathy. It is important not to wait until symptoms appear to get checked. When you start noticing symptoms, the disease and damage can already be severe.
- Book your annual dilated eye exam
- Control with treatment
Diabetes can be controlled with medications and lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise. Diabetic eye disease can also be treated with medications, as well as ocular procedures such as lasers or injections.
Another set of ABC’s to remember to help keep your eyes healthy:
- A1c– Many people have the goal of less than 7 % on this blood test. Your doctor may have a different A1c goal for you. Either way, it is important to know your A1c as a gauge of how well controlled your diabetes is. A1c and your blood sugar are the most important pieces of information to keep up with when it comes to managing diabetes.
- Blood pressure– High blood pressure is linked to more than just heart disease. Controlling your blood pressure is imperative to your best eye health.
- Cholesterol– LDL is “bad” cholesterol that builds up and blocks your blood vessels. HDL is the “good” cholesterol. Ask your primary care doctor about your cholesterol if you are not familiar.
- Don’t smoke!