By Dr. Ajanta Chakravarty, Consultant – Ophthalmology, Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield
Sunil was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 35 years and he has been neglecting it from last 5 years. Although, doctors had asked Sunil to control his sugar level, Sunil found it hard to limit his cravingsfor sweets. Although, Sunil’s wife objected to this habit, Sunil did not seem to budge. This impacted his blood glucose level which kept fluctuating drastically. After few months, he also started to experience blurred vision and found it difficult to drive. On consulting a doctor, realisation set in for Sunil, as his blood sugar was high, and the doctor informed him that his eye issues were due to the uncontrolled diabetes.
Similar to Sunil, many people struggle to control their diabetes and develop severe health condition. Diabetic eye is one such condition which arises due to uncontrolled diabetes and some of the symptoms include diabetic macular edema, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.
Diabetes, over a period of time can damage the eye that can lead to poor vision and in worse cases cause blindness. In the initial stages of diabetes, people may face blurred vision or problems with the eye sight. Loss in the vision is not likely to happen in the first few years with diabetes. However, as the years pass by, high blood glucose levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in the eyes. This damage can start from the prediabetic stage and subsequently become noticeable only after few years of diabetes.
Listed below are the eye problems faced by the diabetic patients.
Diabetic retinopathy: Damaged blood vessels due to high blood glucose can harm the retina leading to diabetic retinopathy
Diabetic macular edema: The part of your retina that you need for reading, driving, and seeing faces is called the macula. Diabetes can lead to swelling in the macula. Over time, this disease can destroy the sharp vision in this part of the eye.
Glaucoma: Diabetes doubles the chances of having glaucoma, which can lead to vision loss and blindness if not treated early.
Cataract: People with diabetes can develop cataracts at an earlier age than people without diabetes
With necessary precautions and lifestyle modification, people can decrease the risk of diabetic eye ailments.
Here are six ways diabetic patients can manage their eye health:
- Regulate your blood sugar: Diabetic patients should keep a close check on their blood sugar and make sure it does not get too high. High blood sugar can change the shapes of lens, which leads to blurry vision. It can also damage the blood vessels in the eyes.
- Maintain your cholesterol levels: If a diabetic patient has high cholesterol, they are at a higher risk of developing eye problemssuch as diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration. By regulating your cholesterol level, you lower the likelihood of developing any of this.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes:Smoking cigarettes not only destroys your lungs, but it is also bad for your eyes. Individuals who smoke are at a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
- Exercise regularly:Exercise is a great way to stay healthy and regulate your diabetes. Diabetic patients who exercise on a regular basishave a much better chance of maintaining their blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Have a healthy diet:Having a healthy diet throughout your life is key in keeping your eyes and body healthy. Certain food like carrot have proved to promote healthy vision. Try to consume food that are rich in green leafy vegetables and Omega 3’s.
- Get a comprehensive eye exam on regular intervals:One of the best things you can do for vision is to get a comprehensive eye examination done on regular intervals. Many common eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma have no symptoms in the early stages and hence the doctor can examine thoroughly for any kind of nerve damage during your visit.
Managing eye health is crucial for people suffering from diabetes. Controlling diabetes is the key for it. The sooner you take actions and work towards controlling your diabetes, the better.