How Can Diabetics Take Care Of Their Eyes
Follow these steps now to make sure you take care of your vision in the years to come.
- Get a comprehensive eye checkup done by your ophthalmologist at least once a year
- Control your blood sugar levels by following a doctor-advised diet and drinking lots of clear fluids
- Maintain and check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels from time to time
- If youre a smoker, quit smoking and limit the consumption of alcohol
- Add physical exercise to your daily routine and stay as active as possible
If youre a patient with diabetes, the good news is that proper care and early detection of any diabetes-induced eye-related conditions can help manage your symptoms and preserve your vision for longer. It is advised to get your share of checkup today.
Keep Your Optometrist Involved
Keeping your optometrist;involved is an important step to preventing diabetic eye disease. If youve been diagnosed with diabetes or if there are changes in your condition, let them know. Keep them informed of your medications and your doctors recommended treatment plan.
Oftentimes with diabetic retinopathy the retina can be badly damaged before any changes in vision are noticed. That is why it is so important to get your eyes checked on a regular basis as recommended by an eye care professional. In many cases, catching and treating diabetic eye diseases early can prevent vision loss and blindness.
Even if you attend your regular checkups, see your eye doctor;immediately if you experience:
- Black spots in your vision
- Flashes of light
- Any sudden change in vision
When Should I See A Doctor Right Away
Call a doctor right away if you notice sudden changes to your vision, including flashes of light or many more spots than usual. You also should see a doctor right away if it looks like a curtain is pulled over your eyes. These changes in your sight can be symptoms of a detached retina, which is a medical emergency.
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Tips For Healthy Feet
Get to the bottom of any foot problems by using a mirror or asking for help.
Check your feet every day for cuts, redness, swelling, sores, blisters, corns, calluses, or any other change to the skin or nails. Use a mirror if you cant see the bottom of your feet, or ask a family member to help.
Wash your feet every day in warm water. Dont soak your feet. Dry your feet completely and apply lotion to the top and bottombut not between your toes, which could lead to infection.
Never go barefoot. Always wear shoes and socks or slippers, even inside, to avoid injury. Check that there arent any pebbles or other objects inside your shoes and that the lining is smooth.
Wear shoes that fit well. For the best fit, try on new shoes at the end of the day when your feet tend to be largest. Break in your new shoes slowlywear them for an hour or two a day at first until theyre completely comfortable. Always wear socks with your shoes.
Trim your toenails straight across and gently smooth any sharp edges with a nail file. Have your foot doctor trim your toenails if you cant see or reach your feet.
Dont remove corns or calluses yourself, and especially dont use over-the-counter products to remove themthey could burn your skin.
Get your feet checked at every health care visit. Also, visit your foot doctor every year for a complete exam, which will include checking for feeling and blood flow in your feet.
Be sure to ask your doctor what else you can do to keep your feet healthy.
Injections To Treat Diabetic Retinopathy And Diabetic Macular Edema
If you have;diabetic macular edema ;or;an advanced;case of diabetic retinopathy,;your doctor may;use;injections;as part of your treatment;plan.;You may need other treatments, like laser treatments;or surgery, in addition to injections.
When you;get;injections;in;your;eye, your;eye;doctor will:;
- Put numbing medicine;on your eye;to make you more comfortable during;the injection;
- Clean your eye to;help prevent;infections;
- Put;the medicine in;your eye with a very small needle;
After the treatment, you;may;need to use antibiotic eye drops to keep your eyes from getting an infection.;The;treatment doesnt change your vision right away.;Most people can;go back to their normal activities right after the treatment.;
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Fluctuating Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar levels that fluctuate throughout the day or from time to time, can cause occasional blurry vision.
It is highly recommended to speak with your doctor about ways to regulate your blood sugar levels, as a constant fluctuation can cause many uncomfortable symptoms and can be harmful to your body.;
Eat A Healthy Diet Get More Active And Give Up Smoking
We know all these things are good for us but its especially important for you as it helps keep your blood sugars in your target range. But why does being healthy make a difference? And can foods prevent diabetic retinopathy?;
No specific foods can prevent retinopathy. But theres lots of evidence that shows eating certain foods can help with blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. And thats what you need to help reduce your risk of eye complications.
This sounds simple, but its not easy for everyone. Start small and build up we have lots of information and support to help you make these positive lifestyle changes. Being healthy will make a real difference to preventing eye damage in the future.
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Summary: How Does Diabetes Impact Your Eye Health
Thanks to our advanced eye tests and technology, our eye doctors can detect diabetes, and eye care has never been more straightforward. Protecting your eye health may not deter diabetes, but it can help with any diabetic eye disease symptoms you may have for cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma, among others.
How can you tell if diabetes is affecting your eyes? The eye doctor may notice before you do during your comprehensive eye exam, where theyll dilate your pupils and inspect your retina for signs of harm. If you develop diabetic retinopathy, you may experience blurry vision, eye floaters, and more.;
So, why wait to get an eye exam on the books? Our offices have availability most days of the week, and many of our locations even have eye doctors open on Saturday or Sunday.;
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Eyes
Diabetes can lead to blurry vision in several ways.
In some cases, its a minor problem that you can resolve by stabilizing your blood sugar or taking eye drops. Other times, its a sign of something more serious thats worth discussing with your doctor.
In fact, blurred sight is often one of the first warning signs of diabetes.
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Am I At Risk For Glaucoma
Anyone can get glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk.;Youre at higher risk if you:;
- Are over age 60, especially if youre Hispanic/Latino;
- Are African American and over age 40;
- Have a family history of glaucoma
Talk with your doctor about your risk for glaucoma, and ask;how;often you need to get;checked.;If youre at higher risk, you need to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years.
Why Does Diabetes Cause Eye Disease
Whenever you eat, your body creates insulin to break down the glucose from your food and distribute it to different cells. Diabetes is a condition that occurs when someone isnt producing enough insulin or their body doesnt use insulin as well as it should. This leads to a build-up of glucose in the blood, and if not properly monitored, this excess can cause numerous health problems.
High levels of glucose in the blood can change the amount of fluid in your eyes or cause some of the tissue in your eyes to swell, causing blurry vision. If you lower your glucose levels in a short amount of time, your eyesight will return to normal, and there may be no permanent damage. However, having high levels of glucose for an extended period of time can damage your eyes permanently. This can cause diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, and glaucoma. The increased levels of glucose in your blood might also damage the blood vessels in your eye, causing them to leak fluid or swell. Additionally, your body might begin to produce weaker blood vessels, which are more likely to leak fluid into the center of your eye. If enough leaked fluid builds up in the eye, it can create intense pressure and swelling, which can result in scarring and permanent damage.
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Diabetes Cataracts And Glaucoma
Acataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye. Excess blood sugar from diabetes can cause a cataract that could require surgery to remove. Gaining control over your blood sugar is the best way for patients with diabetes to avoid cataracts.
Glaucoma damages your eyes optic nerve when fluid builds up in the front part of your eye. The extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye. This is what damages your optic nerve. Patients with diabetes can get new blood vessels that grow and clog up the drain in the eye. This causes severe pressure, pain, and sometimes vomiting. Eye drops, oral medication, injections of medication, and surgery are all treatment options for the type of glaucoma that is associated with diabetes. It is recommended to consult your eye doctor about the treatment option thats best for you.
Kidney Disease Dialysis And Your Eyes
Eye problems can happen without any warning signs, even if you have late stage kidney disease or kidney failure. High blood pressure and diabetes can also increase your risk for eye disease. Therefore, its very important to ask your nephrologist about your eyes and if you should see an eye doctor . If you have diabetes, you should see an ophthalmologist regularly. Not taking care of your eyes can lead to a medical emergency or permanent blindness. The good news;is that if you take care of problems early, you can save your eyesight.
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Whats The Treatment For Glaucoma
Doctors use different types;of treatment for glaucoma, including medicines , laser treatment,;and surgery.;;
If;you;have glaucoma,;its important;to start treatment right away.;Treatment;wont undo any damage to your vision,;but it;can stop it from getting worse.;
Medicines.;Prescription eye drops are the most common treatment. They;lower the pressure in your eye and prevent;damage;to your optic nerve.
Keeping Your Eyes Healthy
Controlling high blood pressure and diabetes is important for your kidneys and your eyes. Follow your doctors recommendations for diet, exercise, and medicine. Check your glucose levels and blood pressure as recommended by your doctor. Quit smoking smoking increases the risk for cataracts and glaucoma. Make sure that any drugs you take for your eyes or for any other reason are the proper dose. Kidney disease and kidney failure can affect how drugs work in your body, therefore, many drugs need to be a special dose for people with low kidney function or for those on dialysis.;
COVID-19 patients can become kidney patients.
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How Will My Eye Doctor Check For Diabetic Retinopathy
Eye doctors can check for;diabetic retinopathy;as part of;a dilated eye exam.;The exam is;simple and painless ;your doctor will give you some eye drops to dilate your pupil and then;check;your eyes;for;diabetic retinopathy;and other eye problems.
If you have diabetes, its very important to get regular eye exams. If you do develop diabetic retinopathy, early treatment can stop the;damage and;prevent blindness.;;
If your eye doctor thinks you may have severe diabetic retinopathy or DME, they may do a test called a;fluorescein angiogram. This test lets the doctor see pictures of the blood vessels in your retina.;
How Does The Eye Work
To understand the eye disorders that can be caused by diabetes, its good to know how the eye works. The eye is covered by a strong outer membrane which is clear and curved. The curved part is the cornea which focuses light and helps protect the eye.
Once light passes through the cornea, it travels through the fluid-filled anterior chamber through the pupil and then through the lens that helps with focusing. The light then passes through another fluid-filled chamber in the middle of the eyeball and hits the retina in the back of the eye.
The retina records the light images that get focused on it and converts those images to electrical signals. The electrical signals are sent to the brain via the optic nerve and the brain decodes them. The macula, part of the retina, is highly specialized for seeing detail. Blood vessels in and behind the eye supply the macula with nourishment.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Eye Disease
Often there are no early symptoms of diabetic eye disease. You may have no pain and no change in your vision as damage begins to grow inside your eyes, particularly with diabetic retinopathy.
When symptoms do occur, they may include
- blurry or wavy vision
- frequently changing visionsometimes from day to day
- dark areas or vision loss
- poor color vision
- spots or dark strings
- flashes of light
Talk with your eye doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
How Can Diabetes Affect My Vision
- The changes in blood sugar levels caused by diabetes can affect the lens inside your eye, especially when your diabetes isnt controlled. These changes can result in your vision blurring, which can change throughout the day and from day to day, depending on your blood sugar levels.;
- Diabetes can cause the lens in your eye to;become cloudy. This condition is known as;a;cataract. If you have diabetes, youre more likely to develop a cataract, and diabetes can cause cataracts to develop at an earlier age.;
- Some people with diabetes may develop;glaucoma, an eye condition that can cause damage to the optic nerve, often due to raised pressure inside the eye.;
- Over time, diabetes can affect the network of blood vessels supplying the retina at the back of the eye, affecting how the retina works. This;is known as diabetic retinopathy. There are different types of diabetic retinopathy and how it can affect vision will depend on the severity of;the changes to the blood vessels.;
- Diabetes can also be associated with or increase the risk of other eye conditions including;retinal vessel occlusion, corneal eye conditions or eye muscle problems.
Not everyone who has diabetes develops an;eye condition.
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Diabetes Treatment And Blurriness
For people who take medication to increase insulin in the body, changing the timing of food or a change in activity levels can result in low blood sugar levels.
Blurriness from low blood sugar does not result from changes in the eye. Instead, it is due to the way hypoglycemia affects the brain.
Vision that changes in this way will return to normal after glucose levels return to normal.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy usually;dont have any;symptoms.;Some people;notice changes in their vision, like trouble reading or seeing faraway objects. These changes may come and go.;
In;later;stages;of the disease, blood vessels in the retina start to bleed;into the vitreous .;If this happens, you;may;see;dark,;floating spots;or;streaks;that look like cobwebs.;Sometimes, the;spots clear;up;on their own; but;its important to get treatment right away. Without treatment, the;bleeding;can happen again,;get worse,;or;cause scarring.
What Are The Symptoms Of Glaucoma
At first, glaucoma doesnt;usually;have;any;symptoms.;Thats why;half of;people with glaucoma dont;even;know they have it.;;
Over time, you;may slowly lose;vision,;usually;starting with your;side;;vision; especially the part of your vision thats;closest to your nose. Because it happens so slowly,;many people;cant tell;that;their;vision is changing at first.;
But as;the disease;gets worse,;you may;start to;notice;that;you cant see;things off to the side anymore.;Without treatment, glaucoma can eventually cause blindness.;
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Am I At Risk For Diabetic Retinopathy
Anyone with any kind of diabetes can get diabetic retinopathy ;including;people with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes .;;;
Your risk increases the longer you have diabetes. Over time, more than half of people with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy.;The good news is that you can lower your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by controlling;your;diabetes.;;
Women with diabetes who become pregnant or women who develop gestational diabetes are at high risk for getting;diabetic retinopathy. If you have;diabetes;and are;pregnant,;have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible.;Ask your doctor if youll need;additional eye exams;during;your;pregnancy.;
What Are The Types Of Glaucoma
There are;many;different types of glaucoma, but the most common;type in the United States;is called;open-angle glaucoma;thats what most people mean when they;talk about;glaucoma.;Other types are;less common,;like angle-closure;glaucoma and congenital glaucoma.
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Keep On Top Of Your Cholesterol And Blood Pressure
High blood pressure and a lot of fat in your blood will increase your chances of getting eye problems. This is because your blood vessels can get damaged or blocked, so the blood cant move around your eye properly.
We have advice and information to help you manage your blood pressure and cholesterol. Your healthcare team will also be able to support you with this.