Prevent Diabetic-Retinopathy, It is Your Best Remedy

Diabetic-retinopathy is a serious threat to your sight. It is the result of high blood sugar damage to the retinal blood vessels. The retina is the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to the brain.

Two general types of diabetic eye disease are known and are characterized as proliferative (PDR) and nonproliferative (NPDR). Nonproliferative diabetic-retinopathy is an early stage of diabetic eye disease characterized by leakage of blood or fluid from blood vessels within the retina. Proliferative is where abnormal blood vessels are present in the retina and sometimes the iris.

Many people with diabetes have mild NPDR that usually does not affect their vision. When vision is affected it is the result of macular edema, macular ischemia, or both. Macular edema can occur in either NPDR or PDR at any level of severity. Macular edema is a common cause of vision loss in diabetes. Vision loss with macular edema may be mild to severe but peripheral vision continues to function. If unchecked, nonproliferative diabetic-retinopathy can lead to worsened blood flow to the retina, more severe damage, and the appearance of new abnormal blood vessels on the optic disk, retina, and even iris.

Proliferative (PDR) is present when abnormal new blood vessels begin growing on the surface of the retina or optic nerve as a result of closure of retinal blood vessels. This is an attempt to supply blood to the area where the original blood vessels closed. Changes in these abnormal vessels can cause hemorrhage into the vitreous cavity, retinal detachment, and glaucoma. This can cause more severe sight loss of both central and peripheral vision.

Various types of laser photocoagulation of the retina are used in certain forms of diabetic eye disease in an attempt to halt or slow its progression. More extensive surgical treatments are available for cases of retinal detachment or persistent or recurrent hemorrhage within the vitreous gel. Glaucoma resulting from diabetic eye disease is often difficult to treat, but both medical and surgical approaches can be attempted. However, prevention is the best remedy.

Control Blood Sugar Levels for Prevention

As in all chronic diseases, the best remedy for diabetic-retinopathy is prevention. Prevention or control of diabetic eye disease relies on strict control of blood sugar levels. But since all diabetics are at risk, changes inside your eye need to be identified as they occur. The best and really the only way to detect changes inside your eye is to schedule regular medical eye examinations at a minimum of once per year.

Other prevention methods are the same as those suggested to prevent or manage diabetes. The ultimate prevention method for diabetic-retinopathy is to prevent diabetes in the first place. Preventing-diabetes or management of diabetes is a priority because diabetes can cause blindness and is a significant risk factor for several other serious diseases. It is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

Manage Stress for Prevention

Emotional or physical stress raises blood glucose and generally upsets the metabolism of our bodies. Uncontrolled stress is implicated in all chronic diseases and that certainly includes diabetes and diabetic eye disease. We need to make stress management a top priority in our lives. Learning to trust in God is a key to managing stress. Spiritual people are better able to cope with stress, anxiety and adversity because they realize that our loving God is in control of their lives.

Nutrition for Prevention of diabetic-retinopathy

A diet low in sugar, high in cruciferous vegetables, moderate in fruits and complex carbohydrates, and low in saturated fats with supplements can significantly improve glucose control and prevent diabetic complications. Soluble fiber lowers elevated blood sugar levels. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.

Nutritional supplements to consider should include vitamins C, D and E. Recent studies show that healthy vitamin D levels are important in preventing-diabetes and help to prevent cancer. Studies have also shown that CoQ10 lowers blood glucose levels. CoQ10 also acts to strengthen the heart.

Discuss any nutritional supplementation program with your physician before starting. Nutritional supplements do not cure or prevent illness and disease.  They only give the body the extra nutrition it needs to take care of itself!  A healthy lifestyle starts with good nutrition.

For your eye health make a commitment to make necessary lifestyle changes and schedule regular eye examinations by your ophthalmologist a minimum of once per year. This is especially important for a person who has been diagnosed as diabetic.

References and suggested reading:

  • "eye disease." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011.
  • Go to retirement resources.

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