Can I Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy?

  • Posted on: May 15 2021
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Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially serious condition that can ultimately lead to blindness. It develops when a person’s blood sugar is frequently or persistently elevated. When blood glucose levels are too high for too long, the retina and surrounding blood vessels can sustain damage. This happens because the blood vessels in the eye are very small and fragile. Elevated blood sugar weakens them and can cause them to leak fluid onto the retina, causing swelling. The retina is the part of the eye that picks up light and signals the brain through the optic nerve. Swelling of the retina can press on the optic nerve, causing irreversible damage. 

People with diabetes are advised to have a comprehensive eye exam at least once per year. A vision exam does not qualify as a comprehensive eye exam. The type of screening we recommend for people with diabetes is a fully dilated exam that observes the back of the eye. Depending on findings, additional tests may be ordered. According to the National Eye Institute, at least 2 in 5 Americans who have diabetes also have some degree of diabetic retinopathy. Knowing one’s risk is as important as obtaining frequent eye exams. Accurate information regarding eye health can guide management strategies such as:

Staying Physically Active

Exercise requires the body to convert glucose for energy and muscle strength. Therefore, when we exercise regularly, our body is able to use insulin more efficiently. The more efficient use of insulin and conversion of glucose for physical energy work together to keep blood sugar in a more regulated state. While any type of exercise is better than no exercise, studies indicate that strenuous exercise achieves longer-lasting effects. 

Eat Healthy

Diabetic patients are encouraged to watch what they eat so their blood sugar does not rise and fall dramatically throughout the day. Well-balanced meals include balanced ratios of fruits, vegetables, protein, fat, and starch. The amounts of each category of nutrients may differ for a person with diabetes. Help from a doctor or nutritionist may be needed to achieve the ideal balance. 

If you have diabetes and it has been a year or longer since your last dilated eye exam, contact a Roholt Vision Institute near you. We are happy to serve patients in Alliance, North Canton, and Canfield. 

Posted in: Diabetic Eye Care

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