According to the National Eye Institute, over 7 million Americans are impacted by diabetic retinopathy, a condition that develops when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina. This month focuses on keeping your eyes healthy by properly maintaining eyesight in the diabetic population.
The prevalence and progression of diabetic retinopathy increases with age. That’s why it’s important to be extra vigilant about eyesight and sugar control in those with diabetes as we age.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition where high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina. Uncontrolled diabetes causes the buildup of sugar in the blood, which is an irritant to the surrounding vessels, especially smaller ones like those in the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when these tiny blood vessels swell leak blood and other fluids, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision.
What are some symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
In later stages of this disease, diabetic retinopathy can cause blurred vision, seeing an increasing number of floaters, difficulty seeing well at night, and seeing blank or dark areas in your field of vision. There are often no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy.
What can I do to help control it?
The best way to manage diabetic retinopathy is by controlling your diabetes and keeping your blood sugar levels stable. Engaging in physical activity, eating healthy, and following your doctor’s instructions for diabetes medications are all interventions that will help to manage your diabetes. Avoiding alcohol and smoking and controlling high blood pressure will also help prevent or slow the development of diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, stay up to date on your eye exams at least once a year for a complete eye exam.
Keep up on your eye health this month and help to prevent the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Our Happier at Home caregivers can assist in taking you to your eye appointment, cooking a healthy meal, or going for a walk for some physical activity.