Preventing Vision Loss Is as Simple as 1-2-3!

Woman taking blood from her finger

Checking your blood sugar daily can help you monitor and manage your diabetes.

If you are living with diabetes, it is important to prevent vision loss because diabetes increases your risk for vision loss.

More than 37 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 out of 3 of them will develop diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness among working-age American adults.

By 2050, the number of people with diabetic retinopathy is estimated to nearly double, affecting over 14 million Americans. However, early detection and treatment can help lower your risk of blindness.

If you have diabetes, understand your risk and follow three simple steps to protect your vision and eye health.

Step 1: Manage Your ABCs

It’s helpful to remember the alphabet when managing diabetes.

Managing your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels is the best way to lower your risk of vision loss.

  • A1C: Manage your daily blood sugar levels and get a regular A1C test (this test measures your average blood sugar over a 2 to 3 month period).
  • Blood pressure: Manage your blood pressure. It is recommended to have a pressure below 140/90 mm Hg (or the target set by your doctor).
  • Cholesterol: Keep your cholesterol levels less than 200mg/dL.

Step 2: Don’t Smoke

Smoking can raise your blood sugar—which makes it harder to manage your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and smoke, you’re more likely to develop diabetes-related complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and diabetic retinopathy. The more you smoke, the higher your risk of developing a complication from diabetes.

Quitting smoking is hard, but it is possible. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support. You can also visit CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers for tips, tools, and resources to help you quit.

Man getting an eye exam

Step 3: Protect Your Eyes

People with diabetes can develop diabetes-related eye complications without having any symptoms. Regular eye exams are important to detect diabetic retinopathy at an early and treatable stage.

People with vision loss caused by diabetes experience trouble with:

  • Being physically active
  • Reading nutrition labels
  • Preparing insulin injections
  • Checking blood sugar

They also experience a reduced quality of life due to:

  • Not being able to work
  • Fewer social interactions
  • Loss of independence and mobility
  • Loss of ability to do daily activities

Get an annual dilated eye exam to prevent vision loss or blindness so you can keep doing the things that are important to you.

Raise Diabetes Awareness

Because type 2 diabetes increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19, this year more than ever, it is important to raise awareness about diabetes and how it can affect almost every part of your body. If you are living with diabetes, make sure to take good care of yourself by managing your ABCs, eating healthy food, and getting regular physical activity.

Help raise awareness by sharing #NationalDiabetesMonth with your friends and family!