Studies by Melbourne’s Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and the Centre for Eye Research suggest that more than 60 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes and almost 100 per cent of those with type 1 diabetes will develop some form of diabetes-related eye disease over time.
While having regular eye tests is the best way to catch problems before they become more serious, these simple lifestyle tips can help improve your eye health, right now!
‘Vegetables like zucchini, cooked spinach and other green leafy varieties, along with fruits, such as kiwifruit and grapes, are great everyday sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin,’ says dietitian Thea Werkhoven. ‘These promote eye health and help lower your risk of developing macular degeneration [deterioration of the retina] and cataracts.’
Eggs are another good choice – enjoy them 3-5 times each week. The yolk is the major source of lutein and zeaxanthin as well as zinc (which helps protect your eyes). If you’re unable to regularly have these foods, you can take a supplement that’s specifically designed for eye health. ‘Supplements can provide certain vitamins and minerals, if you can’t source enough in your diet,’ says Diabetic Living’s ophthalmologist Dr Angus Turner.
MONITOR AND MOVE MORE
Having consistently high blood glucose levels can damage your blood vessels – including those in your eyes. You can help protect against this by regularly checking your blood glucose levels and aiming to get 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Smoking not only damages the blood vessels in your eyes, it also increases your risk of developing conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts, says Dr Turner.