istock 1224184923Diabetes is a concerning chronic health condition that affects millions of Americans. This disease can damage numerous structures in the body, including the eyes. Because persistently high blood glucose levels can weaken nerves and blood vessels, the eyes are particularly vulnerable to damage. Over time, the tiny blood vessels in the eye can weaken to such an extent that they leak blood and fluid onto the retina. This piece of tissue at the back of the eye is vital to vision. It is here where light lands when it passes through the eyes and it is the part of the eye that transfers light to the brain. 

A buildup of fluid around the retina does not cause pain. It may not cause any symptoms until the problem has become severe. Sometimes, the first indication of a problem is some degree of vision loss. By that point, damage cannot be repaired. Because diabetic retinopathy carries significant consequences, ophthalmologists advise people with diabetes to obtain regular dilated eye exams. Some patients may need to schedule exams more than once a year. Additionally, lifestyle remedies such as the following are often recommended to slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Stay Physically Active

Physical activity is highly recommended for people with diabetes as well as for those with other chronic health conditions. For the diabetic, the benefit of exercise is that daily physical movement requires fuel for the muscles. Muscles convert glucose in the blood to energy. This conversion increases the efficiency of insulin usage in the body and therefore improves one’s ability to manage blood sugar without aggressive therapies. Any exercise is good. However, studies show that muscle-strengthening exercise or strenuous exercise achieve longer-lasting effects. 

Eat Healthy

The ideal diabetic diet includes whole-grain products, nuts and seeds, beans, peas, and other legumes, fruits, and vegetables. What is of particular interest to nutrition experts is that diabetics get sufficient fiber in their diets. Fiber helps slow the absorption of sugar so glucose levels do not spike. In addition to fiber, lean proteins and healthy fats work together to regulate insulin usage.

Optimal eye health can be challenging to maintain when you have a chronic health condition. You may need a little more follow-up with your trusted ophthalmologist. To schedule a visit at our friendly practice in Winchester, VA, call 540.722.6200.

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