Diabetes affects millions of people worldwide.

Diabetes complications (from sustained high blood glucose levels) affect many areas of the body, but your eyes are particularly vulnerable.

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Diabetic Retinopathy

This is a condition caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina and is the most common eye complication associated with diabetes.

When blood glucose levels remain consistently high over time, the tiny blood vessels in the retina can become weak, leak, or even block blood flow altogether. This can lead to vision impairment and, if left untreated, sometimes blindness.

Eye Problems

Diabetes can also increase the risk of eye conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts.

And people with diabetes are more prone to developing dry eyes, a condition characterised by inadequate tear production, leading to discomfort, higher risk of eye infections, and potential damage to the cornea.

Early detection and prevention

You can reduce the risk and severity of diabetes eye complications by:

• keeping safe and stable blood glucose levels
• taking medication as prescribed
• getting enough sleep
• having regular diabetes health checks
• enjoying regular activity
• eating a well-balanced diet

Regular eye examinations (at least once a year) are important to find diabetes eye complications early.

Your optometrist uses these checks to regularly assess the health of the retina and identify any signs of retinopathy or other diabetes-related eye problems in their early stages. Early intervention can preserve vision and prevent further damage.

Lifestyle changes

In addition to medical and optical management, making good lifestyle choices can help overall eye health for those with diabetes.

• Stopping or reducing smoking:
Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Quitting is an important step in protecting your eye’s blood vessels and improving both general and eye health

• Blood pressure and cholesterol management:
High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can worsen eye problems for people with diabetes. Taking prescribed medications can help.

• Regular exercise:
Helps manage blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of diabetes eye complications.

• Nutrient rich eating:
Eating a diet rich in foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meats/meat alternatives, milk and yoghurt, helps maintain a healthy mind, body and immune system. Including foods rich in antioxidants, such as dark leafy greens, berries, and nuts, can help protect the eyes.

Looking after your eyes when living with diabetes is really important. Proactive diabetes management and care saves vision.

Managing your diabetes effectively, maintaining safe and stable blood glucose levels and having regular eye examinations can prevent or slow diabetes-related vision loss.

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