Unfortunately, having diabetes means you’re more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age and twice as likely to develop glaucoma. It also puts you at greater risk for diabetic retinopathy, a condition that causes changes to the retina at the back of your eye that can lead to blurred vision, spots and even blindness. Managing your diabetes with impaired vision can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
Here are some ways to ensure you are effectively managing your diabetes, even when there are issues with your vision.
Lighting the way
Given that low vision can affect your ability to check blood glucose levels, give injections and read medical instructions, using a lamp along with magnifying equipment can help ensure you are taking the correct doses of oral medication and insulin. Using a syringe magnifier that attaches directly to the insulin vial and syringe will make it easier to see the dosing line on the barrel.
Standing magnifying glasses can also help in keeping your hands free for using devices and administering your medication.
Find the right monitor
A blood glucose monitor with larger, tactile buttons and high-contrast colouring can be a huge asset when your vision is impaired. There are also talking blood glucose meters on the market that can audibly take you through the process of checking your blood-sugar levels.
Look for those with volume control and an external port for headphones so you can test discreetly when you’re outside your home. Test them out to ensure they are easy to set up and simple to use. Some talking models have been criticized by the visually impaired for being too complicated.
Seek help for insulin pens
Pre-filled insulin pens are a convenient and discreet way to administer insulin, but if you’re visually impaired you need to be cautious. Some products come in different strengths, and using them incorrectly, by administering too much or too little medication, can be downright dangerous.
To be on the safe side, have someone with good vision assist you in administering your insulin if your vision is low, especially when trying a new product or dose. If you are using more than one type of insulin, find products that use different colours and tactile markings on the plunger buttons of their pens to help you differentiate them.
Record healthcare information
Websites or information sheets about your diabetes care are of little use if you can’t read them. Having someone with you at appointments to take notes and share with you later can help. But also consider recording conversations with your healthcare providers so you can re-listen to them afterwards at your leisure.
Keep an eye on prevention
You can reduce the progression of eye complications substantially by having routine eye examinations to screen for conditions like retinopathy. If caught early, you can prevent many eye conditions from getting worse by maintaining optimal blood glucose levels, blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
Be sure to see an eye care professional regularly and talk to your diabetes care team about ways to keep your eyes as healthy as possible. Even with eye complications, taking advantage of the tools and products available for impaired vision will make the process of managing your diabetes a lot easier.