Diabetics – – Keep Your Sights on Vision Health
If you have diabetes, you should have a complete eye exam each year. You could have an eye disease due to diabetes and not know it. Eye diseases due to diabetes include:
- vision fluctuation
- double vision.
Why Should a Person with Diabetes Have an Annual Eye Exam?
To tell if you have an eye disease due to diabetes, the doctor will have to dilate your pupils. This exam can find eye problems caused by chronic diseases such as:
For some people, an eye disease is one of the first signs that they have diabetes. Many times there are no early warning signs. In fact, most people do not realize that their vision is slowly getting worse. Finding and treating eye disease due to diabetes early can prevent vision loss 95 percent of the time.
How Can Controlling my Diabetes Protect my Vision?
Keeping your blood sugar levels as normal as possible can help to:
- slow the start of eye disease due to diabetes and the time it takes it to get worse — or progress
- lessen the need for laser therapy or eye injections
- help reduce other problems from diabetes, such as kidney disease, stroke and nerve damage.
People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to become blind than those who do not have diabetes. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to get an eye disease due to diabetes. Blindness caused by diabetes is highest among African-Americans and Latinos.
What Other Ways Can I Protect my Vision?
In addition to controlling your blood sugar levels and having an eye exam every year, you can take the following steps to protect your eyesight:
- Quit smoking! If you quit smoking you can greatly reduce your risk for problems with the retina of your eyes — or diabetic retinopathy. Quitting smoking can improve your health in other ways too!
- Keep a healthy weight! If you are overweight, losing a few pounds can help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
- Be physically active! Try exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. This can cut your risk of Type 2 diabetes by more than half. Be sure to check with your doctor before you begin an exercise program.
- Watch and control your blood pressure.
- If you are pregnant or are planning a family, you should get a full, dilated eye exam.
How Do I Pay for my Eye Exam?
Older adults with diabetes can get help from Medicare. Medicare helps pay for diabetes self-testing equipment and supplies.
If you have Medicare and are diabetic, you also qualify for the Medicare glaucoma screening benefit every year. This benefit includes an overall eye exam. This way each year you can have an eye exam that checks for glaucoma and problems with the retina of your eyes — or diabetic retinopathy.
Are You Keeping Your Sights on Vision Health?
Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness for 20-74 year olds. But you can prevent eye disease due to diabetes from stealing your vision! Make sure you see your medical doctor and eye doctor at least once per year to protect your eye health.
Points to Remember
- Have a yearly eye exam.
- If you smoke, QUIT.
- Stay physically active.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Control your blood pressure.
Hope Through Research – You Can Be Part of the Answer!
Many research studies are underway to help us learn about eye diseases. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:
- NIH Clinical Research Trials and You
- Diabetes Eye Disease Studies
- NetWellness Research Center
- ClinicalTrials.gov Explained and Find Studies on ClinicalTrials.gov
- ResearchMatch Explained and Join ResearchMatch
For more information:
Go to the Eye and Vision Care health topic.