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East Windsor, NJ 08520

(609) 336-7518

09AM to 05PM EST

How to Prevent Diabetic Blindness: Unlock the Secrets to Clear Vision

Diabetes can cause serious eye problems that can lead to loss of vision or blindness if not treated or detected. Retinopathy from diabetes is one of the consequences of the disease. It causes harm to the retina’s veins, which is the main reason why adult Americans become blind.

According to the CDC, 90% of diabetic blindness cases are preventable through proper diabetes management and routine eye exams.

Importance of Early Detection

Early detection of eye diseases offers the best opportunity for successful treatment. A quarter of a million diabetic Americans lose their eyesight every year. However, more than 50% of them do not undergo eye examinations or receive a timely diagnosis for appropriate treatment.

Understanding Diabetic Blindness

Diabetic blindness occurs when high blood sugar harms the tiny blood vessels in the eye, leading to vision loss or blindness. Doctors medically know this condition as diabetic retinopathy.

Over time, uncontrolled blood sugar causes blockages, swelling, leaking, and abnormal growth of new retinal blood vessels. It stops the retina from working correctly. The retina is responsible for the sharp central vision required for reading, driving, and recognizing faces.

Can diabetes cause blindness? The progression of diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness or reduced vision. The macula, a part of the retina, can get swollen and leak fluid, causing blurry vision in the center. In addition to other visual problems, diabetic eye disease raises the risk of cataracts and glaucoma.

Eye Diseases Related to Diabetes

Diabetes can give rise to several vision problems, including,

1. Diabetic Retinopathy

Blood vessel damage to the retina can result in blindness or trouble seeing. It is the primary cause of vision loss for adults in their working years.

2. Macular Edema

The leakage and swelling in the macula of the retina result in blurry central vision. It is commonly caused by diabetic retinopathy.

3. Cataracts

It clouds the eye’s lens, causing blurry and hazy vision. Diabetes tends to cause cataracts to arise more promptly and vision loss to occur more quickly.

4. Glaucoma

Fluid pressure buildup in the eye usually causes nerve damage, leading to complete vision loss over time—the chance of getting glaucoma increases in people with diabetes.

Vision problems

Risk Factors for Diabetic Blindness

Several variables that can increase the chances of developing diabetic eye disease include,

1. Type of Diabetes

Diabetes type 1 and 2 diabetes, as well as gestational diabetes, can raise your probability of getting diabetic retinopathy. However, the risk increases with Type 1 diagnosis before age 30.

2. Duration of Diabetes

The longer someone lives with uncontrolled blood sugars, the more likely they’ll develop diabetic complications. After 15-20 years, nearly all people with Type 1 diabetes have some degree of retinopathy.

3. High Blood Sugar Levels

Consistently elevated HbA1Cs or blood sugars substantially increase the likelihood of retina damage and vision loss over time.

4. High Blood Pressure & Cholesterol

Uncontrolled high blood pressure, hypertension, or cholesterol also multiplies the chances of developing diabetic eye diseases.

How to Prevent Diabetic Blindness - Risk Factors for Diabetic

5. Smoking

Smoking narrows blood vessels, including those in the eyes, increasing the chance of diabetic macular edema and vision loss.

6. Race/Ethnicity

Some minority racial groups like Native Americans, Latinos, and African Americans have a higher risk for diabetic eye complications.

Symptoms of Diabetic Blindness

Often, diabetic eye diseases have no symptoms until substantial damage occurs. That’s why regular exams are imperative. Symptoms include:

Early Stage Symptoms

  • Vision Changes
  • Blurry Vision
  • Impaired Night Vision
  • Impaired Color Vision
  • Floaters or Dark Strings in Vision
  • Flashes of Light with Floaters

Advanced Stage Symptoms

  • Significant Vision Loss
  • Dark/Empty Areas in Vision
  • Difficulty Recognizing Faces
  • Vision Distortion
  • Impaired Central Vision
  • Complete Loss of Vision

Typically, substantial vision loss occurs with little to no warning. Once treatment becomes less effective, unnoticeable vision deterioration can rapidly accelerate to blindness.

How to Prevent Diabetic Blindness - Symptoms of Diabetic

How to Prevent Diabetic Blindness?

Preventing diabetic blindness entails taking proactive steps to protect your eyesight. With intelligent lifestyle choices, you can reduce your risk of getting diabetic neuropathy. Here are practical guidelines you must adopt to prevent diabetic blindness,

1. Keep Your Diabetes in Control

Managing diabetes is essential for preventing vision loss or blindness, whether it’s Type 1, Type 2, or gestational diabetes. It involves,

1.1. Take Medications as Prescribed

If you have diabetes and your doctor prescribes insulin or oral medication, you must take them as instructed. Do not miss doses or alter the timing/dosage on your own.

Ask your doctor questions if you are unsure when or how to take medication. Also, closely track and report any side effects. Taking medicines is vital for maintaining target blood sugar levels.

1.2. Follow a Healthy Diabetes Diet

If you have diabetes, watch what you eat very carefully. To balance blood sugar and get all the necessary nutrients, seek assistance from a dietician or nutritionist. They can help in making diet charts that suit your underlying problem.

Have Diabetes-friendly foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and lean meats. Healthy eating goals are to achieve a healthy weight, control portions, and limit sugary foods and refined carbs, which are mandatory for diabetes care.

1.3 Exercise Regularly

Frequent exercise helps regulate blood sugar levels and enhance insulin response. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of light daily activity, such as jogging, cycling, swimming, or walking quickly.

There are further advantages to doing weighted strength training two to three times a week. Discuss your exercise plans with your physician. They might recommend changes to your medicine or diet on days when you exercise a lot. Staying active is also vital for diabetic health.

Managing diabetes well prevents diabetic retinopathy and other eye problems caused by long-term high blood sugar.

Related, Can diet and exercise reverse type 2 diabetes?

2. Check Blood Sugar Levels Frequently

Checking your blood sugar often with a glucose meter helps you find patterns and abnormal changes in your levels. It also shows how well your management routine is working.

You ought to measure your blood sugar levels before and after meals. It helps your doctor adjust your medication, diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices to stabilize your blood sugar. It dramatically minimizes the risks of diabetic eye disease and vision loss over time.

How to Prevent Diabetic Blindness - Guideline to Prevent Diabetic Blindness

3. Visit Your Doctor and Have a Glycosylated Test

The glycosylated test, also known as A1C or HbA1c, is a blood test. It calculates your blood sugar averages for the previous two to three months. It gauges the amount of sugar in your hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells.

An A1C below 7% is a common target, demonstrating proper overall diabetes management, says Mayoclinic.

By taking this test a few times a year, you and your doctors can see how well you control your blood sugar. It also helps them change their medication or routine to prevent diabetes problems.

4. Look into Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Readings

High cholesterol levels and arterial hypertension can damage tiny blood vessels in different body parts, mainly the eyes. It significantly raises the possibility of retinal blood vessel damage.

However, properly managing your blood pressure and cholesterol reduces the chances of developing diabetes and blindness. Consult your doctor at a chronic disease management clinic frequently to ensure your medication, food, and exercise regimen keep your levels within safe bounds.

5. Quit Smoking or Get Counseling to Avoid its Use

Smoking substantially increases the likelihood of diabetes-related blindness. Smoking harms blood vessels and worsens diabetic retinopathy, causing vessel leakage, macular edema, and bleeding in the eye.

Quitting smoking and tobacco products protects the delicate retinal blood vessels from further damage that can severely impact vision. Speak to your doctor about creating a cessation routine to become smoke-free successfully.

6. Be Attentive of Vision Changes

Catching diabetic retinopathy and related eye issues is essential since noticeable symptoms typically don’t appear until considerable damage has occurred. That’s why routine eye exams are vital for screening.

However, being mindful of subtle vision changes between exams can also indicate the early development of diabetic eye disease. Blurry vision, difficulty with colors, poor night vision, and seeing spots require immediate eye evaluation and treatment to protect eyesight.

People with diabetes can significantly lower the likelihood of becoming blind or losing their vision by adhering to these guidelines. Working closely with your medical team establishes the foundation for optimized diabetes management and eye health.

Treatment Options for Diabetic Blindness

If caught early, diabetic retinopathy treatment options can save vision. The treatment aims to preserve and improve vision by targeting specific aspects of the condition. These include,

1. Laser Surgery

Minor laser burns seal leaking blood vessels and inhibit growing fragile ones prone to bursting and bleeding into the eye.

2. Medications

Cortisone eye injections directly inside the eye decrease fluid leakage and retinal swelling. Other drugs reduce abnormal blood vessel growth.

3. Surgery

Vitrectomy surgery helps improve vision and eye health by removing scar tissue blood and fixing detached retina.

4. Progression & Vision Loss

However, if diabetic retinopathy progresses too far before treatment, permanent vision loss can still occur. This is why avoidance and prompt identification are so important.

How to Prevent Diabetic Blindness - Treatment for Diabetic Blindness

What to Do If You Have Developed Diabetes Blindness?

If treatments cannot cure extensive eye damage and blindness, adapting living arrangements to fit progressive vision loss is essential.

  • Adding more lighting, audiobooks, and screen readers, employing a guide dog, and learning braille increase independence.
  • Support groups and lifestyle counseling also help cope with the realities of permanent vision loss from diabetes complications.

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How to Prevent Diabetic Blindness?

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The Final Words

How to prevent diabetic blindness? Controlling blood sugar levels and caring for the eyes can prevent diabetes-related blindness. Finding and treating eye problems caused by diabetes early can keep your vision and quality of life safe.

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