Smart strategies safeguarding your sight from diabetes

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Smart strategies safeguarding your sight from diabetes

Our eyesight is precious. They’re our window to the world yet when you have diabetes, this disease can do major damage to them causing poor vision and even blindness.  Fortunately thanks to better technology and treatments, it is possible to avoid vision complications helping to ensure you’ll be seeing clearly for years to come.

Preserving your eyesight can be done when you follow and practice smart strategies regularly.  Here are ways in which to do so:

·      Pay attention to vision changes

If you have noticed a change in your vision such as it becoming more blurry, often times it’s due to abnormally high blood sugar.  When blood sugar is high, it can cause fluid to leak into the lens of the eye causing them to swell changing your ability to see well resulting in blurred vision.  Better management of blood sugar and getting it under control should return vision back to normal.  This means you need to get your blood sugar back into the target range of 80-130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) fasting, and less than 180 mg/dl 2 hours after a meal. 

Always let your eye doctor be aware of your diabetes and if blurry vision becomes a persistent problem, make an appointment right away to have your eyes checked.  It could be a sign of diabetic retinopathy.

·      Have your eyes dilated once a year

Every year, anyone with diabetes needs to book an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam.  You may think your eyes are healthy but they only way to really know is to have this type of exam.  A comprehensive dilated eye exam is when each eye is closely inspected for signs of common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs.  Dilating the eye enables the eye doctor to view inside the eye.  In order to do this, drops are placed in each eye to widen the pupil which allows more light to enter the eye the same way opening a door allows light into a dark room.  Once dilated, each eye is examined using a special magnifying lens that provides a clear view of the back of the eye where the retina, the macula, and the optic nerve are located.  If there are any problems that are found, when caught early, doctors can treat diabetic retinopathy and prevent blindness.

·      Know your blood pressure numbers

It is not uncommon that if you have diabetes, you are likely to also have high blood pressure.  Unfortunately, this combo is not kind to your eyes.  Our eyes have many tiny blood vessels which having high blood pressure puts a lot of strain on them.  One way having high blood pressure for a long time can cause damage to your eyes is by resulting in diabetic retinopathy in which a lack of blood flow to the retina leads to blurred vision or complete loss of sight.  High blood pressure can also lead to choroidopathy or fluid buildup under the retina that result in distorted vision or scarring impairing vision.  Optic neuropathy or nerve damage is another factor high blood pressure can be responsible for which blocks blood flow damaging the optic nerve which may cause temporary or permanent vision loss. 

Aim for a healthy blood pressure level of 130/80 or less and ask your doctor if you are a candidate for medication to control it. 

·      Eat your greens

Cataracts or a clouding of the lens is an eye condition people with diabetes are prone to.  To fend off this potential eye spoiler, be sure to eat your greens as in spinach, broccoli, kale, and collards.  These eye-friendly foods are packed with antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin which have been study proven to reduce the likelihood of preventing the lens of your eyes to become progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision.

·      Make wearing sunglasses your new fashion statement

Not only are sunglasses a great fashion accessory but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.  Direct exposure to sunlight can put you at risk for cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium or surfer’s eye, a tissue growth over the white part of the eye’s surface altering the curve of the eyeball causing astigmatism.  Be sure to wear sunglasses that state they are 100% UVA/UVB protective whenever you are out year round in daylight, even if it’s cloudy.  So don your sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat which also offers great protection to keep your vision sharp and eyes healthy for years to come.