Don't Let Diabetes Rob You of Your Vision
Kathryn Czaplinski
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Don't Let Diabetes Rob You of Your Vision

Diabetic eye disease, a leading cause of blindness, often has no early warning signs. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater their risk of developing diabetic eye disease. That’s why it’s so important for the more than 30 million people in the United States living with diabetes to get regular eye exams to catch problems early.

Diabetic eye disease is a term for several eye problems that can all result from diabetes. Diabetic eye disease includes: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataract, and glaucoma.

Of these, the most common diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy.  

The good news is that early detection and treatment can lower the risk of blindness. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that more than 90% of vision loss from diabetes can be avoided with early detection and treatment.

You can protect your vision and lower your chance for vision loss with these steps:

  • Get a dilated eye exam at least once a year so your eye doctor can spot any problems early when they’re most treatable.
  • Keep your blood sugar levels in your target range as much as possible. Over time, high blood sugar not only damages blood vessels in your eyes, but it can also affect the shape of your lenses and make your vision blurry.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in your target range to lower your risk for eye diseases and vision loss. Also good for your health in general!
  • Quit smoking. Quitting lowers your risk for diabetes-related eye diseases and improves your health in many other ways too.
  • Get active. Physical activity protects your eyes and helps you manage diabetes.

Visit your eye doctor right away if you:

  • See little black lines or spots that don’t go away.
  • See any red spots or a red fog.
  • Have a sudden change in how clearly you see.
  • Take longer than usual to adjust to darkness.

In addition, it’s important to manage your diabetes. If you have questions or need help keeping your diabetes under control, SVMC’s Diabetes Education Program can help.

Staffed by three Certified Diabetes Educators who offer one-on-one consultations at the hospital and many of SVMC’s regional primary care offices, the program is available at no cost and covers:

  • Understanding diabetes
  • The importance and impact of nutrition
  • Healthy lifestyle choices
  • How to monitor your blood glucose level

To learn more, call (802) 440-4025 or e-mail

Additional information and assistance are available from My Healthy Vermont, which hosts free online Diabetes Prevention Workshops to help you make small lifestyle changes and cut your risk of type 2 diabetes by more than half.

Dr. Heidi Welnak, OD is with Advanced Eyecare in Manchester, VT.

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