What can I do to protect my vision?
The NEI (National Eye Institute – a division of the US Centers For Disease Control) urges everyone with diabetes to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. If you have diabetic retinopathy, you may need an eye exam more often. People with proliferative retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 95% with timely treatment and appropriate follow up care.
Several major studies have shown that better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy. The people with diabetes who kept their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible also had much less kidney and nerve disease. Better control also reduces the need for sight-saving laser surgery.
This level of blood sugar control may not be best for everyone, including some elderly patients, children under age 13, or people with heart disease. Be sure to ask your doctor if such a control program is right for you.
Other studies have shown that controlling elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the risk of vision loss. Controlling these will help your overall health as well as help protect your vision.
What should I ask my eye care professional?
You can protect yourself against vision loss by working in partnership with your eye care professional. Ask questions and get the information you need to take care of yourself and your family.
What are some questions to ask?
About my eye disease or disorder...
- What is my diagnosis?
- What caused my condition?
- Can my condition be treated?
- How will this condition affect my vision now and in the future?
- Should I watch for any particular symptoms and notify you if they occur?
- Should I make any lifestyle changes?
- Are you or do you work closely with a retinal specialist if I have or develop sight threatening diabetic retinopathy?
About my treatment...
- What is the treatment for my condition?
- When will the treatment start and how long will it last?
- What are the benefits of this treatment and how successful is it?
- What are the risks and side effects associated with this treatment?
- Are there foods, drugs, or activities I should avoid while I'm on this treatment?
- If my treatment includes taking medicine, what should I do if I miss a dose?
- Are other treatments available?
About my tests...
- What kinds of tests will I have?
- What can I expect to find out from these tests?
- When will I know the results?
- Do I have to do anything special to prepare for any of the tests?
- Do these tests have any side effects or risks?
- Will I need more tests later?
- If you don't understand your eye care professional's responses, ask questions until you do understand.
- Take notes or get a friend or family member to take notes for you. Or, bring a tape recorder to help you remember the discussion.
- Ask your eye care professional to write down his or her instructions to you.
- Ask your eye care professional for printed material about your condition.
- If you still have trouble understanding your eye care professional's answers, ask where you can go for more information.
- Other members of your health care team, such as nurses, diabetes educators, and pharmacists, can be good sources of information. Talk to them, too.
Today, patients take an active role in their health care. Be an active patient about your eye care.
Reviewed by Dr. A. Paul Chous, MA OD, FAAO. 4/12
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