Contributed by – Dr. Snehal Singh
Do you know that diabetes can affect your eyes too? Yes, diabetes can cause many complications including those of the eyes. It is believed that uncontrolled diabetes can severely affect eyes and is one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults. High blood glucose levels and poorly controlled diabetes can damage tiny blood vessels of the eyes which can affect the eyes and vision. It may need immediate medical attention, however, you can reduce your risks by being aware of the condition.
Here are some FAQ’s related to eye care for diabetics:
How can I protect my eyes from diabetes?
The best way to protect your eyes from diabetes is to prevent diabetes and maintain normal blood sugar levels. Follow a healthy routine and keep a check on your health with regular screening. Maintain ideal body weight to reduce the risk of diabetes and other health problems. See a doctor regularly and get yourself checked if you have diabetes.
Check your blood sugar levels and know your risks. If you are in the pre-diabetic or diabetic range, focus on maintaining your blood sugar levels. Take the prescribed treatment.
Health tips for you:
- Follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to stay fit
- Have balanced meals that include fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Avoid refined, processed and high sugary food to prevent sudden spikes in blood sugar levels
- Exercise regularly for at least 20 to 30 mins every day. It not only helps to maintain blood sugar but also improves blood circulation and helps to manage weight
- Quit smoking and drink only moderately or best avoid completely
What are my risk factors if I am diabetic?
Increasing age, being overweight and conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol are some of the contributing factors that determine your risk. Similarly; pregnancy, smoking and tobacco use also add to the risks.
However, the most important risk factor is the duration of diabetes. The longer you have been suffering from diabetes, greater is the risk. Moreover, if your diabetes is undiagnosed, untreated or poorly controlled, the risk is surely higher. The main cause of eye damage is long standing high blood sugar, hence, as diabetics the main aim is to keep a check on your blood sugar. Regular tests to detect blood glucose levels can give you an idea of your diabetes control and the risk of diabetic eye problems.
How does diabetes affect your eyes?
High blood sugar in diabetes increases the risk of a complication called diabetic retinopathy. With time, high levels of blood sugar affect the blood vessels of retina. Initially the retinal blood vessels swell and further get completely blocked. This can affect the oxygen supply to the retina, making the condition worse. Due to damaged blood vessels, fluid leaks into the space that helps in clear vision. This can cause disturbances in vision, appearance of floating spots, flashing lights or complete darkness. It can also cause pain or feeling of pressure over eyes.
Poorly controlled diabetes can also affect the lens and result in blurred vision which is often temporary. Once blood sugar levels are controlled, it eases out. Diabetes can also increase the risk of other eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Are the eye conditions reversible?
Poorly controlled diabetes can increase the risk of several eye conditions. Hence, the recovery depends on the condition and the severity of damage caused. The treatment also depends on the type of eye damage, its duration, severity and diabetes control.
Mild to moderate retinopathy or eye problems may not need immediate treatment but regular follow-up is needed. Good diabetic control and regular blood sugar tests are essential. For advanced retinopathy or for those with severe symptoms, active treatment may be needed.
Diabetic eye problems can be managed well and can be reversible, if detected in time. All the eye complications of diabetes can potentially cause vision loss, if timely intervention is not done. The risk of greater damage is more if the signs are not attended and diabetes is not controlled well.
The eye conditions that have not caused severe damage can be reversible if detected in time. As a diabetic, if your blood sugar is controlled and you follow-up regularly for eye examination, the eye-conditions can be detected in time and necessary treatment can be initiated.
What are the serious complications?
Some of the serious complications include bleeding, causing blocking of vision, retinal detachment, damage to the optic nerve and complete vision loss to one or both eyes. But you can prevent these by being aware and taking action to protect your eyes.
How can I take care for my eyes if I am a diabetic?
If you are a diabetic or if you have suffered from eye problems due to diabetes, you must take care of your eyes. Here are some eye care tips to protect your eyes from damage:
- Plan eye screening to prevent diabetic complications of eyes. Have regular eye check-ups for vision check, dilated eye examination and eye pressure check from an eye specialist. Follow medical advice for post-surgical care of eyes and take necessary medications.
- Monitor blood sugar with blood tests. Tests for HbA1C is a better indicator of your blood sugar control.
- Monitor changes in vision; watch out for any new eye symptom and immediately report any problem to your doctor.
- Care for your eyes, use sunglasses, and computer screens, as needed.
- Follow a healthy diet for eyes and sugar control. Include dark green vegetables, yellow-orange and vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables and fatty fish for healthy eyes.
Seek medical opinion for your health problems. Take proper treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure or any other health problem, you may have. Monitor your health with regular blood tests and check-ups. Remember your eye checks and blood tests for diabetes.
Friends, complications of diabetes can be controlled; but you need to be vigilant. Be alert and proactive. Control your diabetes and protect your eyes!
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