Your 4-Step Defense Against Diabetic Retinopathy

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you’re at risk for this eye disorder. Here’s how to protect your vision.

Health Monitor Staff
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Over time, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage the tiny blood vessels of the eyes, causing bleeding, fluid buildup and scarring in the retina, the part of your eye that sends light signals to the brain. The result can be impaired vision and eventual blindness. Fortunately, these four steps can help keep you seeing clearly: 
  1. Keep your blood sugar in check
    Work with your diabetes healthcare team to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Multiple studies have proven that people with diabetes who achieve good control lower their risk considerably.
  2. Rein in high cholesterol and high blood pressure
    Both conditions can impair healthy circulation, including to the blood vessels in the eye, increasing the risk for diabetic retinopathy. Luckily, the same steps that help stabilize blood sugar—a healthy diet, exercise, stress reduction and so on—can also lower cholesterol and blood pressure. And if your primary care provider has prescribed medication, be sure to take it.
  3. Get regular eye exams
    Remember, diabetic retinopathy can start silently, so a yearly dilated eye exam is your best bet for catching the disorder early on, when treatment is more effective.
  4. Know the signs—and report them
    Call your doctor if you experience blurred vision, spots or floaters in your vision, dark or empty areas in your vision, or difficulty seeing at night.
April 2013