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Eat Right to Prevent Eye Problems

Diabetes is a multi-system disease that has effects on the organs of the body, which include the eyes. Diabetics are very prone to eye diseases and should have their eyes tested regularly. In fact, diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in 24 to 74 year-olds. Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular edema are some diabetic eye complications which are the greatest causes of blindness.

Even those who manage their diabetes well will often eventually still suffer from diabetic eye disease. Diabetics are twice as prone to cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma as other people.

It is unfortunate that eye problems are common in diabetics and most cannot be prevented. But permanent blindness can be prevented with early treatment.To prevent eye problems:

  • keep your blood sugar levels under control at all times
  • keep your blood pressure under control
  • do not smoke
  • immediately report any changes in vision
  • have eye exams yearly or more often, if necessary and if pregnant, have an eye exam during the first 3 months of the pregnancy

Dietary modification is also very important.The guidelines below have been proven to be beneficial:

  1. Eat three meals each day, at regular intervals. Snacks should be included in-between meals as part of the total daily calorie requirement.
  2. Avoid fasting, as it can cause hypoglycemia. If hypoglycemia occurs, glucose is needed immediately. Children should be taught to carry candies, sugar packets and fruit juices but only for consumption in situations like these.
  3. Avoid skipping a meal and compensating at the next one.
  4. The timing of the meal and snacks is very important.
  5. The types and amounts of foods are also very important.
  6. Eat more high-fiber foods. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber. Another approach to increasing fiber content is by adding fiber supplements such as wheat bran, and oatmeal to the diet.
  7. Cut down on sugar and other sweet foods and prefer starches that are obtained from whole-grain cereals, root crops and tubers.
  8. Consumption of special commercially-produced diabetic foods should be avoided as much as possible.While they contain low amounts of sugar, some have high fat content and are costly.
  9. Eat fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables as they are rich in antioxidants and some phytochemicals.
  10. Give preference to whole legumes.
  11. Choose soya beans or wheat flour to increase the protein content of food.
  12. Increase intake of some special foods such as bitter gourd (ampalaya), oats, barley, dried beans (legumes), apples and citrus fruits which help lower the blood sugar levels.They also reduce lipid levels.
  13. Since people with diabetes are susceptible to increased serum cholesterol and serum triglyceride levels, increase their intake of some special foods like onions, garlic, ginger and alfalfa sprouts.
  14. Use cooking methods that require minimum amount of fat. Eat boiled, broiled and steamed foods.

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