Protecting your eyesight is one of the most important priorities that you can have as you advance in age. Studies show that vision impacts quality of life more than any other of the five senses, and complications from diabetes can compromise your eyesight. Therefore, it is essential that diabetics are even more vigilant in safeguarding against degenerative eye disease (Source: Everyday Health).
Here are some steps that you can take to stay one step ahead of diabetes and sustain healthy vision:
- Keep your blood sugar in the safe zone. Elevated glucose levels damage blood vessels in the retina and can cause permanent eye damage. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels means maintaining healthy eyesight. Diabetics who do not control their blood sugar are four times more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy. It is important to see your primary care physician regularly, take all prescribed medication, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.
- Ask your eye doctor how often you should have a dilated eye exam. Diabetics are at higher risk for retinal damage, so having a dilated eye exam is important. Enlarging the pupils allows your eye doctor to view your retina more clearly to diagnose any diabetes-related eye problems. Make certain that you follow your doctor’s recommended schedule for your eye exams. Click here to find an eye care specialist near you.
- Get blood pressure and cholesterol checked often. High blood pressure can cause fragile blood vessels to rupture more easily, and high cholesterol can make more fatty deposits leak from damaged vessels. Your primary care physician will help monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and make any necessary changes in your medicine. The rest is up to you. Take cholesterol medication as directed and eat a diet that is low in salt and fat and high in fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking puts you at higher risk for developing diabetic retinopathy and it makes it harder to manage blood sugar levels. Diabetics are already 1.8 times more likely to have a heart attack and 1.5 times more likely to have a stroke, and smoking just elevates this risk even more.
- Wear UV protection sunglasses. Diabetics are already at higher risk for developing cataracts, and ultraviolet radiation increases this risk. Choose sunglasses that offer 100 percent UVA and UVB protection and wrap around the eyes to provide the best coverage. Eye protection is even more important at higher elevations and during afternoon hours when the sun is more intense, so use extra caution in these situations.