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Prevention of Eye Problems in Diabetics
In diabetics, eye problems are generally caused by consistently high blood sugar levels over an extended period of time. The types of eye ailments that a diabetic may face include glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy. The symptoms start with blurred vision, headaches, eye aches, pain, halos around lights and, if ignored, may lead to constantly watering eyes and even loss of vision.
Diabetes and eye problems
According to a recent survey, diabetes affects around 23.6 million people in the United States. This chronic disease can even be life-threatening if not properly controlled.
Treatment of these eye problems depend on the type of ailment. Whether the patient has type 1 diabetes(insulin-dependent diabetes) or type 2 diabetes (noninsulin-dependent diabetes), is also a contributing factor. But, it has been rightly said that prevention is better than cure. And the first step of lessening the chances of eye disease complications in diabetics starts with reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, quitting smoking, and maintaining proper blood glucose levels.
The National Eye Institute has identified diabetic retinopathy as “a leading cause of blindness in American adults.” It is a progressive eye disease that is very capable of leading to blindness if ignored. Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina. The vessels then start swelling, losing fluid or reaching the surface of the retina, thereby hampering vision.
Glaucoma Research Foundation states, “….people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as are non-diabetics.” This disease causes a pressure to build up inside the eye which damages the optic nerve and obstructs vision. There are four kinds of glaucoma, but the one that affects diabetics most is called open-angle glaucoma (not narrow angle glaucoma). Sometimes diabetics are affected by neovascular glaucoma, which occurs if new blood vessels grow on the eye. This causes drainage of fluid from the eye and elevates eye pressure.
Diabetics have a higher risk of developing cataracts. This ailment causes clouding of the optical lens which affects the vision. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has pointed out that diabetics are prone to contact Cataracts at a much younger age that non-diabetics. Symptoms of cataracts include a cloudy appearance to the optical lens that causes a blurry vision in one eye. A reduction of vision and a constant glare in one’s vision occur as well.
Even though, you should always be extra-careful about your eye health once you have been diagnosed with a type of diabetes; you must know that there is something wrong as soon you start experiencing:
- black spots in your vision
- flashes of light
- “holes” in your vision
- blurred vision in one eye or both
Tips for diabetics to prevent eye problems
It goes without saying that controlling blood sugar and blood pressure are an absolute must for those who have been suffering from diabetes for years. In order to keep your levels in check, and thereby prevent eye disease complications, you must start incorporating some simple habits in your daily life. Quit drinking and smoking. Don’t let yourself be exposed to even passive smoking. Follow a healthy diet chart chalked out by a qualified nutritionist. Get a trainer and exercise regularly. Avoid stress and try to control hypertension.
The American Diabetes Association has offered a number of eye care guidelines for people with diabetes:
ü Type 1 diabetics must take a dilated eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist every three to five years after getting diagnosed.
ü Patients with type 2 diabetes should have a dilated eye exam immediately after getting diagnosed. As the patients suffering from this type of diabetes are generally older, they have probably been exposed to damage for a longer duration.
ü Women, who have suffered from diabetes for years, must go through regular eye test online or in a doctors office either of them should be done before and during pregnancy (also see a healthy gestational diabetes diet). This rule does not apply so strictly to those who have gestational diabetes.