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Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

How to keep your eyes healthy with diabetes

I have been getting a lot of questions recently about complications related to diabetes, so I thought I would write a little series about how to prevent these complications!

This week the focus is on how to keep your eyes healthy with diabetes! Of course the obvious is prevent high blood sugars, but I have gathered a few more tips I hope you find useful!

So, keep reading for my top tips on how to keep your eyes healthy while living with diabetes!

1. Avoid the rollercoaster

High sugar levels alone can cause damage to the eyes, but having extremely high sugar levels followed by low sugar levels can also be very damaging and is best to avoid.

 roller coaster - keeping eyes healthy with diabetes

Drastic fluctuations can be extremely damaging to the blood vessels at the back of the eye because the excess glucose damages the walls of blood vessels. If this is followed by a drastic reduction in blood glucose, it can deprive the eye of oxygen.

Therefore, try to not over-correct a high sugar level and try to gradually bring your glucose back into range.

I like to treat high blood glucose with a small correction dose, and some gentle exercise, such as going for a short walk. If you have an FGM/CGM, keep track of your levels to ensure you do not drop into a hypo after treating a high.

2. Protect your eyes

This is a really important point! And there are a few different factors to consider to keep your eyes protected!

sunglasses to keep eyes healthy with diabetes
  • Wear sunglasses! – Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause eye damage and can lead to long-term eye problems. So make sure you invest in sunglasses with UV protection as cheaper products do not provide adequate protection. 
  • Stay hydrated! – dehydration can cause thinning of tissue in the eyes, as well as making eyes sore and itchy. Looking at screens for a long time can contribute to dryness, so drink lots of water and take regular breaks from staring at screens. If you suffer from dry eyes, also consider buying an eye spray, or drops for extra moisture.
  • Get lots of shut eye! – Sleep is your body’s time for healing and regeneration, so getting adequate sleep is essential for eye health. Try to get yourself in a regular sleep routine, and priorities your self-care time!
  • Quit smoking! – Smoking puts more pressure on the eyes and increases the risk of getting complications from diabetes. Smoking increases blood pressure which can also contribute to eye damage. So if you smoke, I would strongly recommend taking the steps to quit and to prioritise your health.

3. Get your annual screenings

Getting your eyes checked regularly is imperative. I know it isn’t the nicest of processes, but knowing your eyes are healthy can really help to ease the burden of diabetes. I don’t really like getting them checked, but thinking of it like this makes the process a lot more bearable!

Furthermore, if the doctor does find some changes in your eyes, the quicker we know, the better! If damage is found early we can intervene and prevent this damage getting worse, and becoming permanent.

So get organised, arrange your appointments and set reminders to make sure you don’t miss them!

4. Nourish your eyes

There are certain nutrients that are essential for eye health, here is a brief list of what to prioritise!

raw almonds for keeping eyes healthy with diabetes
  • Vitamin A/Beta-carotene – Vitamin A is essential for eye health, sight, and the structure of eye tissue. Generally, vitamin A is found is orange fruit and vegetables, so include carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and mango in your daily diet!
  • Lutein – Lutein provides protection from UV damage and can be found in dark leafy greens! Try to include spinach, kale and Swiss chard in your diet! Dark leaves are also packed with antioxidants which help to prevent damage to body tissues.
  • Omega-3 – Essential fatty acids are great at preventing dryness, and can be found in salmon, mackerel, walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts and chia seeds.

A final point to know, is that having high cholesterol can also massively contribute to eye damage. Eating plenty of unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats can help to balance cholesterol. Unsaturated fats can be found in peanut butter, avocado’s, legumes, fish, nuts and seeds.

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Thank you for reading how to keep your eyes healthy with diabetes! I really hope you found this useful and helps you to protect your eyes! Make sure you subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to read How to stop worrying about diabetic complications! and 5 Easy ways to lower your HbA1c!