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Diabetes, Nutrition and Vision

Being diagnosed with diabetes can be quite a heavy burden. You have to more closely track your diet, reassess your lifestyle, and most importantly, check your blood sugar constantly. Along with all the difficulties of diabetes itself, there are many complications which can develop if you are not careful to control your diabetes responsibly. Some major complications can affect your eyes in very serious ways. “Diabetes related eye problems are the leading cause of blindness in people between the ages of 20 and 74,” explains Dr. Nicole Whitaker of Nicole Whitaker, O.D. and Associates in Athens, Ohio “Failure to properly control your blood pressure and blood sugar can lead to serious complications including cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, good nutritional habits go a very long way toward preventing such complications.”
Cataracts are a clouding or fogging of your eye as a result of clumps of protein which sometimes form as the lens of the eye hardens over time. These clumps may block vision. Although cataracts usually affect the older population set, diabetes can often lead to early development of this condition. Because of this, it is important to consume many fruits and vegetables, as these have been proven by multiple studies to reduce the chances of developing cataracts, regardless of age. It should be noted, however, that due to diabetic considerations, a person with diabetes should be sure that their fruit consumption is based on fresh fruits rather than packaged or canned. This is because canned fruits often have a great deal of added sugar or syrup, whereas fresh fruits do not. This is an important consideration for keeping your blood sugar from spiking.
Glaucoma is another eye condition which can be developed as a result of poorly managed blood pressure and diabetes. Glaucoma is a condition by which abnormally high inner eye fluid pressure causes damage to the bundle of nerves at the back of the eye, called the optic nerve, which feeds visual information to the brain for interpretation. Diabetics are particularly susceptible to a rare form of glaucoma called neovascular glaucoma, in which new blood vessels grow into the colored part of the eye, called the iris, causing visual damage. This is an extremely hard condition to treat. Among the most important steps to avoiding glaucoma related to diabetes is avoiding trans fats such as french fries, ice cream, cookies and bacon.
Dr. Whitaker states, “Smoking and diabetes do not go together. If you are a smoker, every time you light up, you are causing your blood vessels, including those in your eyes, to constrict. This causes a jump in blood pressure that is bad for diabetes in general and may also lead to a very dangerous eye condition called diabetic retinopathy, in which blood vessels in the eye begin to leak fluids or may close completely, doing significant damage to your eyes.”
For prevention of all of these conditions, it is also very important to concentrate on losing excess weight. This prevents high blood pressure and high blood sugar that contribute to the development of any type of diabetes related complications. Proper exercise and diet go a long way to maintaining a healthy weight. Be sure, however, not to do strenuous exercise that may lead to straining which can harm your eyes by stressing the blood vessels.
The best way to avoid blindness caused by these conditions is to avoid developing them in the first place. For more tips and information, consult your health care professional today.