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Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Prevented?

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood sugar due to diabetes. Over time, having too much sugar in your blood can damage your retina the part of your eye that detects light and sends signals to your brain through a nerve in the back of your eye (optic nerve).[1]

If you have diabetes, you need to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. Diabetic retinopathy may not have any symptoms at first but finding it early can help you take steps to protect your vision.

According to the National Eye Institute, more than 2 in 5 Americans with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. Your risk increases the longer you have diabetes. Anyone with any kind of diabetes can get diabetic retinopathy including people with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes that can develop during pregnancy).

The good news is that you can lower your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by managing your diabetes in the following ways:

Stay Physically Active

When you exercise, your muscles use sugar (glucose) for energy. Regular physical activity also helps your body use insulin more efficiently. These factors work together to lower your blood sugar level. The more strenuous your workout, the longer the effect lasts. Ask your doctor about what type of exercise is appropriate for you including the right balance of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise.[2]

Eat Healthy:

If you have diabetes, you need to manage the foods you eat, including the types of foods you eat, as well as the combination of foods. Plan healthy, well-balanced meals that include a mix of starches, proteins, fats, fruits and / or vegetables. Talk to your doctor, nurse or dietitian about the best food choices and the appropriate balance of food types.

Manage Your Medications:
Insulin and other diabetes medications can help you manage your diabetes, but medications you take for other conditions may affect your blood sugar levels. Always check with your doctor when taking over the counter medications or those prescribed by a different provider.

What can you do?
If you have diabetes, you will need to visit your Ophthalmologist for an annual eye exam to ensure you are proactively managing any eye issues before they become larger problems. If you have any symptoms of eye irritation, see your doctor immediately.


See what you’ve been missing! Trust ZIEKEREYE Ophthalmology for all your eye care needs. Call us at 518.450.1080 or use our convenient online Request an Appointment form to schedule your consultation.

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