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Diabetic blindness is an important concern for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you run the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, which accounts for 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year. But you don’t have to become one of these scary statistics if you keep tight control over your blood glucose (sugar), and follow these simple preventive measures.

8 Ways to Protect Your Eyes

Monitor changes in your vision. This can be done both during your yearly visit to your eye care professional, and also at home. Make a  note of vision on a daily basis–that way if anything out of the ordinary arises, you’ll be able to identify it immediately. If you are new to diabetes, you will have some vision abnormalities as glucose is regulated by treatment (pills or insulin, or both), but if you notice blurred vision and you have had diabetes for a length of time, it might be a signal you need to keep tighter control of your glucose levels.

Keep your A1C level under 7%. A1C is a test you have during a visit to your endocrinologist to determine how well-controlled your diabetes has been during the previous 2-3 months. For most people, if your A1C is under 7%, it means you’re doing a good job keeping the amount of sugar in your blood in your target range. Keeping your blood glucose in this target range means less damage to the delicate blood vessels around your eyes.

Control blood pressure. People with diabetes have a greater chance of having high blood pressure, which can cause eye blood vessel damage. The combination of high blood pressure and the presence of too much glucose can wreak havoc on your vision. Keep your blood pressure at 130/80 or under, and you’ll decrease the chances of vision impairment.

Get your eyes checked. This means visiting your eye care professional each year, and having a dilated eye exam. This imaging system can play a crucial role in preserving your vision when you have diabetes.

Preserve your remaining vision. If your eye doctor has determined that you have damage to your eyes and/or vision loss, ask him or her about vision rehabilitation, or low vision services and devices that may help you make the most of your remaining vision. Prevent further damage by keeping A1C’s under 7%, blood pressure at 130/80 (or below), and monitor your blood glucose (sugar) to be certain it is in your desired range.

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