Diabetic Retinopathy: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in part of your eye. This part of the eye is called the retina. It detects light that enters the eye. Then it sends signals to your brain about what the eye sees.

When this type of eye damage happens, it's called diabetic retinopathy. It can lead to poor vision and even blindness. But if you keep your blood sugar and blood pressure levels in your target range, you can help avoid or slow the damage.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Have regular eye examinations. Tell your doctor about any changes in your vision.
  • Keep blood sugar in a target range.
    • Eat a variety of healthy foods, and spread carbohydrate throughout the day. You may want to have a dietitian help you plan meals.
    • If your doctor recommends it, get more exercise. Walking is a good choice. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk every day. Try for at least 2½ hours a week.
    • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
    • Check your blood sugar as often as your doctor recommends.
  • Eat a low-salt diet. This may help keep your blood pressure at a normal level. You may also need to take medicines to reach your goals.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make this condition worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new changes in vision in either eye.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your vision is getting worse.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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