Vision care is a critical concern for people with diabetes, and it’s important to find a highly qualified eye doctor. In Frankfort, KY, and throughout the Kentuckiana region, the eye doctors at Dr. Black’s Eye Associates help prevent and treat diabetic eye disease. Diabetic patients can also play a significant role in preventing eye disease by following the 5 tips included in this blog post.
What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?
Diabetic eye disease actually refers to a collection of conditions that often affect people with diabetes. These problems include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma. Diabetes poses an increased risk for developing these conditions because of how it affects the blood vessels in the eyes.
Over time, diabetes can cause irreversible damage to your eyes, often leading to poor vision or even blindness. But you can take steps to prevent diabetic eye disease or keep it from getting worse by properly managing of your diabetes.
Next we’ll discuss two of the most common issues that diabetics can develop with their vision: diabetic retinopathy and macular edema.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adults in the U.S., and the risk increases with age and medical conditions such as diabetes. Because symptoms often don’t occur until the disease is severe, it’s even more important for people with diabetes to get annual eye exams. Eye doctors can perform a specialized test to detect retinopathy. If you do develop diabetic retinopathy, our eye doctors may recommend laser surgery for treatment.
This condition also involves the retina. Instead of high blood sugar damaging the blood vessels, as in diabetic retinopathy, macular edema is caused by fluid accumulation that leads to swelling (edema) in the central part of the retina called the macula. Again, you may not notice symptoms, although some patients may have blurry or wavy vision.
Tips for Preventing Diabetic Eye Disease
People diagnosed with diabetes are accustomed to managing the disease. Taking these steps can help them prevent eye conditions that pose a threat to their vision:
Keep blood sugar levels steady: Elevated blood sugar levels may cause blurry vision because it changes the shape of the eye’s lens. Vision returns to normal after the blood sugar levels stabilize, but high blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the eyes. Keeping a close watch on blood sugar levels is critical for diabetics to avoid vision problems.
Schedule annual eye exams: A yearly dilated eye test enables your ophthalmologist to thoroughly examine the retina and optic nerve to detect signs of disease before a patient notices any symptoms. As noted earlier, this is crucial because significant damage to a patient’s vision can occur before any symptoms show up.
Monitor your blood pressure: Keeping both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control is important to reduce the risk of eye disease and vision loss. It’s also good for your overall health.
Quit smoking: This is a good idea for several reasons, but it’s especially critical with diabetes because smoking causes problems for blood vessels and greatly elevates the chances of developing vision problems. Don’t hesitate to ask your eye doctor for help to kick the habit.
Exercise: As with most other tips on this list, regular exercise is a good idea for everyone. But moving around—even if that means taking walks—helps maintain blood sugar levels and minimizes the odds of diabetic eye disease.
If you have diabetes and you’re looking in Corydon, Louisville, or elsewhere in the Kentuckiana region for an eye doctor, you can contact us using the online form or by calling our main office at (812) 284-0660.