The number of those with diabetes and prediabetes continues to rise every year. And according to the 2012 Vision Problems in the U.S. report from Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute, more than 7.6 million people ages 40 and older have diabetic retinopathy. The longer someone has diabetes, the more they are at-risk for vision loss from diabetic eye disease and related eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataract.
Fortunately, for some, simple lifestyle changes can help delay or even prevent developing diabetes and its effects in the future.
As part of the Live Right, Save Sight! program, Prevent Blindness America offers the following recommendations:
• Visit your eye doctor at least once a year if you have diabetes or if you are at high risk. For some, diabetic retinopathy is one of the first signs of diabetes.
• Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, even a modest weight loss can help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
• Increase your physical activity. Exercising 30 minutes a day, five times a week can cut your risk of Type 2 diabetes by more than half. It is important to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
• Watch and control your blood sugar levels.
• Maintain a healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of eye disease, as well as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. It may be necessary to change diet and exercise habits or take medication to keep blood pressure under control.
• If you smoke – quit. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk for diabetic retinopathy as well as provide other health benefits.
• All women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant and have been diagnosed with diabetes should get a full, dilated eye exam.