National Diabetes Month: Learn How to Protect Your Eyes

National Diabetes Month: Learn How to Protect Your Eyes

If you have diabetes, you’re not alone. In fact, 34.2 million Americans are estimated to have the condition. And while you may know that diabetes can cause life-threatening complications, such as heart disease and stroke, you may not know that it can cause vision issues, too.

The good news is that it’s not guaranteed that just because you have diabetes that you’ll have serious problems with your eyesight. In fact, a majority of people who suffer from diabetes only experience minor sight issues.

As the nation recognizes National Diabetes Month, our highly skilled providers at the Tayani Institute — with multiple locations throughout Southern California — unpack the connection between vision and diabetes, so you can know how best to protect your eyes for years to come.

The connection between diabetes and your eyesight

Diabetes is a condition in which the body doesn’t produce insulin — which is the case with Type 1 diabetes — or the body can't use insulin properly, which is the case with Type 2 diabetes. Insulin helps unlock cells throughout the body, so sugar can go from your blood and into your cells to provide energy.

If sugar in the blood can get into the cells, it builds up in the blood, which can lead to a number of dangerous conditions. When it comes to your eye health, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels, and this can hinder nutrient-rich blood from getting to the tiny capillaries that nourish your eyes.

Ways to protect your eyesight

If you follow these recommendations, you can help keep your eyesight strong:

Control your blood sugar

If damaged blood vessels block the healthy flow of blood to your eyes, this can increase your risk of experiencing eye damage and developing serious eye diseases. In fact, diabetic retinopathy, a dangerous condition that causes damage to the blood vessels located in the retina at the back of the eye, is the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 20-74.

Furthermore, diabetics are 25 times more likely to suffer from blindness and twice as likely than the general population to develop glaucoma and cataracts. However, as alarming as these statistics are, the key takeaway is that with vigilant attention to controlling your blood sugar, you can protect and preserve your eyesight.

Schedule diabetic eye exams

One of the best ways diabetics can protect their eye health is to schedule diabetic eye exams in addition to routine eye examinations. In comparison to routine eye exams, diabetic eye exams include diagnostic eye tests that measure your eye health in much more detail.

For example, your provider may perform a test called optical coherence tomography, which checks the thickness of your retinas and looks for signs of leaking from damaged blood vessels. Other tests may include a fluorescein angiography, which uses a dye injection to further check for leakage issues or blockages.

Notify your doctor about vision changes

Another important way to protect your eyes if you have diabetes is to notify your doctor about any changes in your eyesight, no matter how minor they may seem. Symptoms, such as cloudy or blurry vision, trouble seeing at night, seeing double, loss of peripheral vision, pain or redness, or seeing floaters, may mean something is amiss. 

To sum it up, keeping open communication with your provider and being vigilant about controlling your blood sugar can help you keep your eyes healthy long into the future.

If you have diabetes and want to learn more about protecting your eye health, call 949-489-2218 or book an appointment online with the Tayani Institute today.

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