November is Diabetes Awareness Month. With more than 29 million diabetes patients in the US, you or someone you know may be affected by diabetes. How can you and your optometrist help you to manage your diabetes? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Get an eye exam
Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in the US. One of the main reasons for blindness in people with diabetes is the lack of regular dilated eye exams. Your optometrist is fully trained in the detecting the changes in the eye caused by diabetes. Your optometrist can communicate to other members of your health care team your level of diabetic eye health. This team includes not only your family physician, but also your optometrist, dietitian, endocrinologist, podiatrist and dentist. If you don’t have an optometrist, the California Optometric Association and American Optometric Association provide a doctor locator to find a local optometrist in California or around the country.
2. Join a support group
Support groups for patients with diabetes are designed to inform and encourage these patients to understand more about how the disease can affect the body. You can gain useful strategies to control your diabetes. If you’re unsure where you can join one ask your doctor, ask local clinics or a hospital, or check out the American Diabetes Association site for local diabetes education programs near you.
3. Stay informed about your health
Learn more about diabetes by talking to the doctors involved in your healthcare. Have a list of the medications you use ready for your doctors to review.
Know your blood sugar levels, this includes your fasting blood glucose levels and your hemoglobin A1c. Your A1c provides an insight to the level of blood glucose control over several weeks.
4. Take a walk
Along with medication, diet and exercise are important ways to help control your diabetes. Understanding how your diet impacts your blood glucose levels is important to controlling your diabetes. For more on diabetes, diet, and exercise the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) provides more information.
5. Be an active member of your health care team
You are the most important member of this team, because without you this team can’t win. Talk with your doctors, stay informed about your health, and get your eyes checked. If you do these things, you too can fight diabetes!