Eye health and diabetes
“The Eyes are the window to your soul” is a quote by William Shakespeare that many of us are familiar with. This quote definitely applies to eye health and can be a window to your health status. Many physical conditions may be diagnosed during an eye exam.
For people with diabetes, eye care is especially important. In many cases, diabetes may be diagnosed by your eye doctor before you’re aware you have the disease. That’s because uncontrolled blood sugars may cause changes to the back of the eye or retina. Minor changes may occur that you’re unaware of; eventually leading to damage that could result in blindness. This is why it’s so important for everyone to have a yearly eye exam, especially people with diabetes.
This change in the health of the eye’s retina is called retinopathy and is one of the serious side effects of uncontrolled diabetes. People with diabetes are also more prone to develop cataracts and glaucoma. Whether or not you develop these eye conditions may depend on how well controlled your blood sugar is, the status of your blood pressure and your genes. All three of these factors play a role in the health of your eyes.
In addition to making a yearly eye exam appointment, you should report any unusual eye symptoms to your doctor. These would include:
- Changes in your vision, including blurry vision
- Appearance of floaters which look like black specks or lines when you look at something
- Flashes of light
- Difficulty seeing at night
As part of a healthy lifestyle plan, all people with diabetes need to follow recommended guidelines. In addition to your yearly eye exam and dental check, you also need to be aware of your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and albumin levels. Every three to six months, you should have your A1C checked to determine the history of your past blood glucose levels.
With careful control of your diabetes, including planning and eating healthy meals and participating in daily physical activities, side effects from uncontrolled diabetes can be avoided. You only have two eyes, so make sure they are getting the best care you can provide.
For more information on healthy lifestyles, including ways to lower your risk of diabetes contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.
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