Use diabetes ABCs to retain vision

February 9, 2021

Proper management of blood sugar and blood pressure in diabetics is the foundation for overall health. Blood sugar and pressure also play a critical role in maintaining vision by reducing the risk for diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic Eye Disease Risk Factors

Your risk of acquiring diabetic eye disease is higher if you have

  • High blood glucose that is unmanaged or untreated
  • High blood pressure that is unmanaged or untreated

Diabetic eye disease is a group of diseases that include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma. Since vision often cannot be restored once lost, a dilated eye exam once a year becomes particularly important to identify diabetic eye disease early.

In addition to a yearly dilated eye exam, MSU Health Care recommends monitoring the Diabetes ABCs: A1C level, blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking to preserve diabetic vision.

A1C Test

An A1C test measures the amount of sugar in your blood over the past 3 months. The goal is to have an A1C below 7 percent, but everyone’s goal may be different. Work with your care team to identify what your goal should be. Then make a plan together to either reduce or maintain your percentage. Your primary health care provider often will review and discuss a goal at your annual wellness exam. However, you may also see an endocrinologist or make other appointments to set a plan for maintaining  your blood sugar levels.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure increases your risk for diabetic retinopathy. Managing your blood pressure can help prevent loss of vision. Most people with diabetes strive for a blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg. Check your pressure regularly and speak with your health care professional if you don’t know what your goal should be.


Managing your cholesterol means managing both the amount of LDL “bad” cholesterol and your HDL “good” cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can build up, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Watching your HDL cholesterol levels and taking steps every day to increase your levels can help keep artery-clogging cholesterol in check.

If you don’t know your cholesterol levels, ask your care provider. Individuals over 40 years of age may need to take a statin medication. MSU Health Care Pharmacy will deliver free within 30 miles and its SyncRx program to makes managing multiple medications easier.

Stop Smoking or Nicotine Use

Smoking is an underlying cause of many health conditions. For individuals with diabetes, stopping or reducing the amount of nicotine in any form reduces the stress on your heart. Nicotine narrows blood vessels which make it harder for your heart to pump blood.

Through management of your sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and nicotine consumption you can reduce the risk of diabetic eye disease.

MSU Health Care can be a part of a healthy eye plan for 2021, we offer both primary and specialty care for diabetics. Our advanced imaging services have appointments every day of the week and provides readings by radiological specialists.