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Diabetic Retinopathy: Controlling Your Risk Factors

Diabetic retinopathy affects your eyes. It happens when diabetes harms blood vessels in the back of the eye (the retina). It can lead to vision loss. To help reduce your risk of vision loss, take care of your health. Managing your diabetes and other health problems can make this eye condition less likely. You must also see an eye care provider about once a year. They will do a dilated eye exam. This helps find any problems with the blood vessels of your retina.

Manage your diabetes

Help protect your sight by:

  • Keeping your blood sugar level in a healthy range

  • Checking your blood sugar often

  • Following your diabetes management plan

  • Working closely with your healthcare providers. They can help if you can't keep your blood sugar in range. These may include a provider who specializes in diabetes (endocrinologist). Or a primary care provider. Or any other provider who helps to manage your diabetes. 

Control your risk factors

There are other factors that harm blood vessels. These can make diabetic retinopathy worse. These factors include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Smoking

  • High cholesterol

Work with your healthcare team to control these problems. This can help lower your risk of diabetic retinopathy. A diabetes educator can also help. They can help you control blood pressure. And high cholesterol. And they can tell you about quit-smoking programs. You must also see an eye care provider once a year. They will give you a dilated eye exam. Do this even if your sight seems fine.   

To learn more

The resources below can help you learn more:

  • American Diabetes Association 800-342-2383  www.diabetes.org

  • Lighthouse International 800-829-0500  www.lighthouse.org

  • National Eye Institute 301-496-5248  www.nei.nih.gov 

  • Hormone Health Network 800-467-6663 www.hormone.org

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2018
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