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Focus on This: May Is Healthy Vision Month
May 13, 2013
The merry month of May is upon us, and that means it’s time to think about your vision! In 2003, the National Eye Institute declared May as Healthy Vision Month. Now is as good a time as any to make sure that you’re doing all that you can to protect your vision and prevent vision loss.
Diabetes and vision
Everyone with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, is at risk for diabetic eye disease. This doesn’t mean that you’ll get it, but the risk is very real. Studies show that after having diabetes for 15 to 20 years, more than 90% of people with Type 1 and more than 60% of people with Type 2 will have diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent it. Keeping your diabetes “numbers,” such as A1C, blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol, within your target range is crucial. And here’s the biggie: Make sure you get a dilated eye exam every year. Doing this is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent vision loss.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic macular edema. The macula is a very small part of the retina that’s responsible for sharp, detailed vision. If leakage or swelling occurs in the macula, diabetic macular edema can result. This can be present along with diabetic retinopathy. If not treated, it can cause blurry vision, distortion of straight lines, and even vision loss.
What are the symptoms of diabetic eye disease?
How is diabetic eye disease treated?
Preventing diabetic eye disease
• Keep your A1C and blood glucose in your target range. For most people the target A1C is less than 7%; the blood glucose target is 70 to 130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
• Keep your blood pressure controlled. For most, the goal is below 140/80.
• Keep your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in check. For most, the goal is less than 100 (or less than 70 if you have heart or blood vessel disease or are at very high risk of heart disease).
• Aim to be physically active most days of the week.
• Try to reach and stay at a healthy weight.
• If you smoke, make a plan to stop.
• Call your eye doctor right away if you have a sudden loss of vision, severe eye pain, or feel like a curtain is coming down over your eyes.
Because you may not have symptoms of diabetic eye disease, having an eye exam is the best way for your eye doctor to detect and treat any problems early on, before your vision is affected. Ideally, go to an eye care specialist who has experience in caring for and treating diabetic eye disease. You need a dilated eye exam at least once a year, and maybe more often if your eye doctor suggests it. Schedule yours this month. Remember: Eye problems and vision loss are preventable!
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