Updated: 11/2/18 October is Blindness Awareness Month. What does that have to do with Diabetes? A lot actually – according to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among adults in the U.S.
Over time, high blood sugar levels from diabetes can lead to damage of the retina, the layer on the back of the eye that captures images and sends them to the brain.
Eye damage can occur without any initial symptoms. This is why it is so important for people with diabetes to get regular eye examinations and catch problems before serious retinal changes occur. What is the best way to preserve your vision? Control your blood glucose. “When you have vision loss from diabetes, it also indicates that your blood glucose levels are abnormal,” says Raj Maturi, MD, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at Indiana University School of Medicine. High blood pressure and kidney problems are also risk factors for diabetic retinopathy. What can you do? Follow these guidelines to protect your vision.
- Do your best to control your glucose by monitoring daily.
- Keep your A1C (overall measure of blood glucose control) within your target range.
- Avoid extreme and frequent high blood glucose highs and lows, even if your A1C is on target.
- Eat healthy foods and maintain a well-balanced diet.
- Do aerobic exercises to improve vascular function or check with your physician if you’ve been diagnosed with proliferative retinopathy, detached retina, or other eye problems.
- Maintain good eye protection habits such as wearing sunglasses to reduce UV light exposure, taking a multivitamin that contains vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc. The National Eye Institute studied high-dose vision supplements and found that 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, 15 mg of beta-carotene and 8 mg of zinc reduced vision loss from advanced age-related macular degeneration in some people. Discuss these supplements with your physician before taking for eye health.