If you have diabetes, yearly eye exams can help protect your eyes from potential damage. In fact, your eyes may also be at risk if you have prediabetes, a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
In fact, around 88 million American adults—1 in 3—have prediabetes. Surprisingly, more than 84% of people with prediabetes don’t even know they have the condition! This is concerning because you can’t protect yourself from potential prediabetes-related eye problems if you don’t even know you have it.
Sadly, diabetes can negatively impact a person’s vision by damaging the eyes. If left unchecked, this damage can eventually lead to blindness or other serious conditions. Diabetes related eye problems are collectively known as forms of Diabetic Eye Disease or Diabetic Retinopathy. High sugar levels in the blood can harm blood vessels throughout the body, including small ones in the eyes.
Diabetic Eye Disease Symptoms
Diabetic individuals can suffer from various eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, or macular degeneration. For those that already have these eye problems, it’s even more important to visit their eye doctors consistently to preserve their eyesight at current levels and prevent further damage to their vision.
Diabetic Eye Disease can lead to many eye problems, such as:
- Shifts in vision quality
- Difficulty seeing colors
- Changes in light intensity
- Problems seeing things in the dark or at nighttime
- Frequent eye floaters, spots
- Wavy or blurred vision
Many people who develop these problems don’t experience any symptoms early on. This makes it even more important to visit your eye doctor so they can look for warning signs that you may not be able to pick up on.
Visiting Your Ophthalmologist Regularly
One of the most important things you can do is visit your ophthalmologist at least once every year. They should give you a thorough eye exam to check for potential problems and signs of damage within the eye. Thankfully, eye doctors can pick up on most diabetic eye disease symptoms with a comprehensive exam that examines the retinal area and optic nerves.
Other Ways to Prevent Diabetic Eye Disease
Fortunately, most people can prevent the symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease by taking good care of their health. This includes consistently eating a healthy, diabetic friendly diet, staying active throughout life, and regularly visiting your eye doctor for check-ups.
Reducing stress levels through activities such as yoga, walking, and meditation can also help reduce the symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease.
Eating a diabetic friendly diet can help control blood sugar levels and prevent damage to the body’s blood vessels in the future. People with diabetes need to control their blood sugar to avoid health problems throughout their bodies, which includes the eyes.
A healthy diet can also prevent high blood pressure levels and high cholesterol, both of which are also risk factors for Diabetic Eye Disease and potential vision problems. Deciding to quit smoking can also reduce a person’s risk even further.
As you can see, it is quite important to visit your eye care professional on a regular basis. Many people aren’t aware of their risk for prediabetes and diabetes and can be unable to identify symptoms on their own. An ophthalmologist can find red flags by putting people through a comprehensive eye exam. This can help preserve a person’s vision and prevent serious eye problems in the future.