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Blurry Vision with Diabetes – Diabetic Retinopathy Information

by Cindy Gray

Diabetes is a disease that affects the metabolism.  Essentially, the body is unable to produce any insulin or it produces too little insulin, resulting in elevated glucose (or sugar) in the blood.  High blood sugar contributes to a wide range of health problems, one of which is eye health. 

Diabetes can lead to eye damage through a condition called diabetic retinopathy.  Over time, elevated blood sugar causes blood vessels to leak into the retina, which lines the back of the eye and senses light.  A buildup of fluid can lead to blurry vision and vision loss.Don’t Sugarcoat Your Vision

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of retinopathy until the disease has advanced to an irreversible point.  For those with advance-stage diabetic retinopathy, symptoms include blurry and/or obstructed vision.  Getting a yearly eye exam with dilation helps eye doctors detect changes in vision.

Related: Exploring Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Eye Health

Retinopathy Diagnosis

To diagnose this disease, eye doctors use drops to dilate pupils in order to see the retina at the back of the eye.  Typically, this view alone is enough to make a diagnosis, but sometimes another test is required.  With fluorescein angiography, doctors use dye to track circulation in the retina to make an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

If caught early, diabetic retinopathy is easy to treat with few complications.  Laser treatment seals blood vessels in the eye that have just begun to leak, but blood vessels leaking over a period of time may require surgery.

Prevention

The best way to stay on top of eye health is to have an eye exam once a year.  Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, especially if blood sugar levels are not kept in check.  Making sure blood sugars stay at healthy levels helps lower risks for this disease.

Relax.  Stress causes a release of adrenalin and the body reacts with elevated blood pressure, a slower digestive system, and a rise in blood sugar.  It stands to reason that relaxation techniques might produce the opposite effect.  In fact, studies show that people who participate in transcendental meditation show improvement in insulin resistance.  Other relaxation methods to try include guided visualization, yoga, biofeedback, and deep breathing.

Natural Ways to Control Blood Sugar:

  • Don't smoke; and limit alcohol consumption.

  • Engage in regular moderate exercise as it reduces blood sugar and helps make insulin more effective.Sessions of 30 to 60 minutes three to four times per week offer the most benefits.

  • Cut out processed foods.Because they have little nutrients and fiber, processed foods digest quickly, causing blood sugar levels to spike.

  • Eat more soluble fiber.By delaying the emptying of the stomach, soluble fiber (which dissolves in water) slows the rate of absorption for carbohydrates which helps stabilize blood sugars and lowers demands for insulin. Some types of fruits and starchy foods containing soluble fiber convert too quickly to sugar, so focus on slower-converting choices like oatmeal, flaxseed, nuts, cucumbers, and asparagus. 

  • Relax.  Stress causes a release of adrenalin and the body reacts with elevated blood pressure, a slower digestive system, and a rise in blood sugar.  It stands to reason that relaxation techniques might produce the opposite effect.  In fact, studies show that people who participate in transcendental meditation show improvement in insulin resistance.  Other relaxation methods to try include guided visualization, yoga, biofeedback, and deep breathing.

People who are concerned about eye health should visit the eye doctor each year, particularly if they have diabetes.  Diabetic retinopathy is a serious condition that responds well to treatment if diagnosed early.  Taking steps to control blood sugar also helps ensure good eye health.

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