You can't always prevent diabetic retinopathy. However, regular eye exams, good control of your blood sugar and blood pressure, and early intervention for vision problems can help prevent severe vision loss.
If you have diabetes, reduce your risk of getting diabetic retinopathy by doing the following:
- Manage your diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, each week. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.
- Monitor your blood sugar level. You may need to check and record your blood sugar level several times a day — more-frequent measurements may be required if you're ill or under stress. Ask your doctor how often you need to test your blood sugar.
- Ask your doctor about a glycosylated hemoglobin test. The glycosylated hemoglobin test, or hemoglobin A1C test, reflects your average blood sugar level for the two- to three-month period before the test. For most people, the A1C goal is to be under 7 percent.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed, too.
- If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including diabetic retinopathy.
- Pay attention to vision changes. Contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or your vision becomes blurry, spotty or hazy.
Remember, diabetes doesn't necessarily lead to vision loss. Taking an active role in diabetes management can go a long way toward preventing complications.
Mar. 20, 2015
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- Eye complications. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/eye-complications/. Accessed Jan. 5, 2015.
- Fraser CE, et al. Diabetic retinopathy: Prevention and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 5, 2015.
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- Retinopathy. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Jan. 5, 2015.
- 4 steps to manage diabetes for life. National Diabetes Education Program. http://ndep.nih.gov/publications/publicationdetail.aspx?pubid=4. Accessed Jan. 6, 2015.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Accessed Jan. 12, 2015.
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