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Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Reversed?

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Evidence shows you can reverse diabetic complications with strict diabetes control and a healthy lifestyle

It’s long been known that diabetic complications, such as diabetic retinopathy, can be slowed by taking severe control of blood sugar levels and making healthy lifestyle changes. However, there’s also evidence to suggest that complications can actually be reversed. It appears that as long as the right conditions are met, the body can heal some of the damage.

If you have diabetes, we recommend regular visits to our eye care practice in Toronto, Ontario , for an eye exam to inspect for diabetic retinopathy and other types of diabetic eye disease. Remember, when caught early, diabetic eye disease is treatable!

Eye exams and diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a typical complication of diabetes, in which abnormally high blood sugar levels lead to retinal damage, vision loss or blindness.

If we detect the early signs of diabetic retinopathy during your comprehensive eye exam at Corktown Eyecare, you can start making lifestyle changes immediately, such as tighter blood glucose management, exercise and a healthy diet, to prevent the disease from progressing. By visiting for regular dilated eye exams, our eye doctor can monitor your symptoms and work with you to design a modern treatment plan to slow or reverse vision loss.

The effects of diet on diabetic retinopathy

The most famous diet-based therapy for reversing serious chronic disease is credited to Dr. Walter Kempner, physician of the ophthalmology department at Duke University, who pioneered the approach with his recommendations for eating mostly rice and fruit. Kempner’s diet was plant-based and ultra-low in sodium, fat, cholesterol and protein.

Kempner conducted a patient study in which he took “eyegrounds photographs”, which captured a view of the back of the eye. By tracking changes in these images, he demonstrated that diet could actually reverse damage. In fact, he found some patients who had suffered extreme vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy were later able to read fine print again. Of the 44 patients in his study who had diabetic retinopathy, 30% of them saw improvement in their vision.

Nowadays, we have many advanced laser therapies and injections to treat diabetic retinopathy. While Kempner’s food plan is not recommended as a stand-alone approach, it does show that what you eat can be very powerful for preserving your eye health!

What you can do to slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy

According to the American Optometric Association, there are several ways you can slow or possibly reverse the progression of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Manage blood sugar levels as tightly as possible
  • Take any prescription medications according to your doctor’s recommendations
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Control hypertension
  • Don’t smoke and avoid alcohol
  • Don’t miss routine eye exams that enable your eye doctor to monitor your condition and change treatment, as necessary.

To schedule a diabetes eye exam with a qualified, experienced eye doctor, contact our Toronto, Ontario , eye care practice.

At Corktown Eyecare, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 647-694-7600 or book an appointment online to see one of our Toronto eye doctors.

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