November is Diabetes Awareness Month and health advocates are marking the occasion by spotlighting risk factors for the metabolic disorder, health problems associated with it, and how to combat them.
“If you have diabetes, you are at higher risk of developing eye disease, including diabetic retinopathy,” says Dr. Carmen Pal, who heads the Lighthouse Guild Bendheim Center for Diabetes Care. “The good news is that there is much you can do to preserve your vision and reduce your risk of eye disease.
“If you notice any changes in your vision, you should see your physician as soon as possible. However, careful monitoring and regular eye exams, in consultation with your eye care specialist, can help you avoid vision loss, as well as other health problems associated with diabetes.”
Other tips, courtesy of the Lighthouse Guild.
Manage your health. Have a dilated eye examination with your ophthalmologist or optometrist once a year. By monitoring your eye health, you can begin treatment as soon as possible if signs of disease appear.
See an endocrinologist. One of the best ways you can improve your health is to consult an endocrinologist. If you have diabetes, many medications are available to help. Talk to your physician about a referral.
Set up your diabetes team. If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, actively manage your health. Learn techniques for monitoring your blood sugar and making lifestyle and dietary changes that will help you feel better.
Take care of your feet. It is especially important for diabetics to pay special attention to their feet. You may not be able to feel or see injuries as well as you should, and cuts may take longer to heal.
Exercise. Regular exercise can help to to control your diabetes.
Try group support. “If you have diabetes, you aren’t alone,” says Pal. “You can join a diabetes support group and learn from people who are in the same situation and understand what you are facing. Share your experience and what you’ve learned and get support from others.”