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Take Care of Your Eyes and Feet with Diabetes

By Jaclyn Vaughn, Dietetic Intern and Amber Barnes, RD, LD, University of Louisville Hospital

Persons living with diabetes have an increased risk for developing eye and foot problems as a result of poor blood sugar and blood pressure control; and poor circulation coupled with nerve damage and loss of sensation. Most diabetic eye and foot problems can be prevented or limited with a few daily self-checks.

A person with diabetes is 40-60% more likely to get cataracts or glaucoma than someone who doesn’t have diabetes. These issues, along with retinopathy or retinal eye problems can cause vision loss.

Most diabetic eye problems can be prevented or limited if the following measures are taken:

  • The best thing you can do to prevent or delay eye complications is control your blood sugar
  • See your eye care professional for a dilated eye exam once a year
  • Early retinopathy may not have any noticeable symptoms so early detection and treatment is very important to prevent further damage and future vision loss
  • See your eye care professional in between yearly check-ups if you experience blurred or double vision, pressure around or behind the eyes, painful or red eyes , trouble reading, or If you experience spots or floaters
  • Quit smoking
  • Control your blood pressure
    • Diabetes can also lead to problems with the feet such as loss of circulation, nerve damage and pain, sores that won’t heal, and even amputation. Fortunately, preventative foot care is an effective and successful way to protect against the most common diabetic foot problems.

Most diabetic foot problems can be prevented if the following measures are taken:

  • Control your blood sugar
  • Inspect your feet daily – check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or nail problems
  • Wash your feet in lukewarm (not hot) water – hot water will dry out the skin on your feet making it more susceptible to cracking and infection
  • Cut nails carefully – cut your toenails straight across, do not clip the edges
  • Wear clean, dry socks – change them daily
  • Wear proper fitting shoes
  • Never walk barefoot
  • See your podiatrist for regular foot check-ups and in between regular check-ups for treatment of calluses and foot sores