Diabetic Retinopathy: Controlling Your Risk Factors

Woman writing down result from glucometer.Diabetic retinopathy happens when diabetes harms blood vessels in the rear of the eye. This can lead to vision loss. You can help reduce your risk of vision loss by taking care of your health. Managing your diabetes and other health problems can make diabetic retinopathy less likely.

Manage your diabetes

You can help protect your vision. To do this, keep your blood sugar level in a healthy range, check your blood sugar often, follow your diabetes management plan, and work closely with your healthcare providers. This includes your endocrinologist (a healthcare provider who specializes in diabetes), primary care provider, or any other provider who helps to manage your diabetes. He or she can help if you are having trouble keeping your blood sugar in range.

Control your risk factors

There are other factors that damage 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 developing diabetic retinopathy. A diabetes educator can help you control blood pressure and high cholesterol. He or she can also talk to you about programs to help you quit smoking. Diabetic patients should also see an eye healthcare provider regularly for an eye exam (at least every 1 to 2 years).   

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