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People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing eye complications. But having a risk of something doesn’t mean you’ll get the condition. Here are 10 ways to protect your eye health with diabetes. 


People diagnosed with diabetes (PWD) are at an increased risk of developing eye complications such as cataracts (clouding of the eye lens), glaucoma (buildup of eye pressure damaging the nerves in the eye), macular degeneration (irreversible loss of vision field), retinopathy (blood vessel damage to eyes), and others. It’s not just blood sugars that affect the eyes and their tiny blood vessels but also blood pressure and stress. 

Like your entire body, your eyes require a favorable environment (adequate blood supply, oxygen, and nutrients) to function at their best. Chronic and uncontrolled stress negatively impacts insulin’s function of getting sugar into the cells for energy, raising your blood sugar. In addition, the longer you have diabetes, the more at risk you are of experiencing eye complications. 

But having a risk of something doesn’t mean you’ll get the condition; risk means you have a higher chance of getting something. Protection and prevention are still the keys to avoiding eye complications related to diabetes and maintaining optimal eye health.

10 Ways to Maintain Your Eye Health

To help you prevent or slow the progression of these eye-health concerns, here are ten ways to help maintain optimal eye health with diabetes.

  1. Get your yearly dilated eye exams and physical exams. The eye specialist uses special drops to look inside your eyes (retina, blood vessels, and overall eye condition). Your healthcare provider may detect eye changes unknown to you and serve as a reminder to get a complete examination of your eyes.
  2. Eat foods that preserve eye health. The eyes require Vitamin A-rich foods such as eggs, sweet potatoes, and spinach, which help moisten your eyes and prevent night blindness. Vitamin C helps to prevent cataracts. Healthy fats such as omega three help to preserve eye health.
  3. Evaluate your coping strategies. Are you mastering your emotions and feelings or letting them master you? Are you having trouble sleeping, experiencing frequent headaches, or experiencing other stress-related symptoms? Remember, you are never alone, and asking for help is okay.
  4. Know your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose numbers. The tiny vessels in and outside your eyes are strong and have limitations.
  5. Use alcohol in moderation. Excessive alcohol intake can increase your risk of macular degeneration. If you drink alcohol, be mindful and moderate.
  6. Quit smoking if you smoke, and reduce your presence around people actively smoking.
  7. Restrict your use of eye drops. They can cause more dry eyes.
  8. Limit screen time. Too much time staring at screens can lead to dry eyes and eye strain.
  9. Protect your eyes from chemicals in the air.
  10. Protect your eyes from sun rays. It’s widely known to protect your eyes on sunny days, but you also want to protect them on cloudy days. Too much sun exposure increases your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Want to learn more about protecting your eyes? Here are some kid-friendly (and adult-friendly) recipes to support eye health, and more information on helping your eyes.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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