The term “diabetic eye disease” is used to describe a set of different eye conditions that, if left untreated, lead to severe vision loss and blindness. These conditions arise as complications of diabetes and include diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma.
According to recent studies, diabetes is responsible for 8% of legal blindness and that makes it one of the leading causes for blindness in Americans aged 20-74. Eye care professionals urge people with diabetes to undergo a comprehensive eye examination at least once per year in order to detect and take care of any eye health and vision problems in their early stages. Additionally, the following tips will help you prevent your eyes from potential vision problems due to diabetic eye disease.
- Regular eye examinations. While cataracts can be easily detected in its early stages of development and treated fairly easily, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma may remain undetected until irreversible eye damage and vision loss occurs. That’s why people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes must undergo comprehensive eye examinations at least once per year.
- Control your blood sugar levels. The key to diabetic eye disease prevention is blood sugar levels control. One of the most significant diabetic eye disease studies, The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) showed that better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy. Furthermore, people with better controlled diabetes are less likely to suffer other diabetes complications such as kidney and nerve disease. The easiest way to keep your blood sugar as near to the healthy levels as possible is through your diet. Avoid foods with high glycemic index (white bread and pasta, high sugary foods) and opt for slowly digestible foods such as oatmeal, broccoli, spinach, green beans, strawberries, salmon and lean meats.
- Maintain a low-fat vegetarian diet. Researchers have found that a low-fat vegetarian diet may help diabetes type 2 patients to better manage their blood sugar levels. The study showed that 43 percent of the people who followed such a diet for 22 weeks reduced the need to take diabetes medications.
Low-Fat Vegetarian Diet Tips
Although studies showed that a low-fat vegetarian diet may help diabetes management, vegetarians are at risk of various vitamin and mineral deficiencies. To avoid any potential problems, vegetarian should try to follow a well-balanced and varied healthy diet. Here are some foods that can provide your body and your eyes with all essential nutrients even if you follow a vegetarian diet:
- Tofu, tempeh, beans, nuts and nut butters, eggs are foods that can substitute meat and provide adequate protein amounts.
- Eggs, soy-based foods, dried prunes, apricots, whole-wheat breads and potatoes provide adequate amounts of iron.
- Milk, yogurt and cheese are good sources of calcium. If you are a vegan, make sure your diet is rich in soy products, almonds, sesame tahini and dark-leafy green vegetables.
- Milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt mushrooms and peas are excellent sources of zinc.
- Fortified oatmeal, fortified fruit juices, trout, salmon, eggs, yogurt and milk are good sources of vitamin B12.
- Almonds, milk, yogurt, mushrooms, soy milk are riboflavin-rich foods.
- Cold water fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) as well as flaxseeds and flaxseeds oil, soybeans, walnuts and tofu are good sources of omega-6 and omega 3-fatty acids.
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