Protect Your Vision with an Annual Exam

When you have diabetes, you have a higher risk for developing a number of problems. Heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, poor circulation, to name a few. But there’s at least one other complication that can develop when you have diabetes that can have a dramatic impact on your quality of life…blindness.

Left unchecked, diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the retina, and lead to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. It’s typically a gradual process that goes from minor vision impairment to total blindness. Want to know how to prevent it?

Get an annual eye exam. Research by the National Institutes of Health shows that early detection can reduce the risk of blindness for people who have diabetes by about 95 percent. Getting a check-up seems like a no brainer to protect your vision. Right?

But the truth is, about 60 percent of people who have diabetes don’t get an annual exam to check their vision, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. And that’s a pretty serious problem when an estimated 29 million people in the United States has diabetes (1 in 10 adults).

“People with diabetes need to know that they shouldn't wait until they experience problems…,” says American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson Dr. Rahul N. Khurana. “Getting your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist can reveal the signs of disease that patients aren't aware of.”

What’s the main factor that causes diabetic retinopathy? Chronically high blood sugar levels. It’s one more reason following your doctors instructions, tracking blood sugar levels, taking medication, eating healthy, and making smart lifestyle choices is so important.

Your diet plays a big part in regulating blood sugar levels. The wrong foods (refined carbohydrates) can cause dangerous spikes in blood sugar levels. Fortunately, the right foods can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent rapid spikes that can harm your health and lead to vision loss and other problems. Need help figuring out what to eat? Check out the selection of Diabetic-Friendly meals.