May is Healthy Vision Month. If your eyes feel healthy, chances are they are healthy. However, as a diabetic, you need to pay special attention to your eye health because eye problems are among the early symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy — the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in people with diabetes —cataracts and glaucoma usually plague those suffering with diabetes. The good news is you can avoid getting these diseases by controlling your diabetes.
Following are seven tips to help you keep your eyes healthy.
Eat healthy foods — dark, leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and spinach are rich in Vitamin A, which is important for good vision. Orange and yellow vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other winter squash) are also rich in Vitamin A. Eating fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids —salmon, tuna, halibut— is also great for your eyes.
Increase your physical activity — Being physically active helps you control conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all of which can lead to diabetes, which can affect your vision.
Talk to your doctor — your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) can be your eyes’ best friend. By keeping your appointments and having your eyes examined regularly, your doctor will be able to spot any disease and begin treatment before it threatens your vision.
Take your medication as prescribed — not following your prescription will cause your glucose to rise and this can cost you your vision. Follow your doctor’s orders to the letter.
Protect your eyes — wear sunglasses outdoors even on a cloudy day. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation.
Do not smoke — If you do, quit! Smokers are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as smoking increases abdominal fat, which is a known risk factor for diabetes. Smoking also makes it harder to manage insulin levels. Smoking increases your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. It can also damage your optic nerve.
Know your family history — let your primary doctor as well as your ophthalmologist know if you have a family history of eye disease. This way he can take early steps to help you avoid getting those diseases if you don’t already have them.