According to a recent study conducted in 2018, more than four cans of diet soda (carbonated drink) per week can lead to a condition known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. The NHS describes the condition as “caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye”.
If undiagnosed and untreated, the condition can lead to permanent blindness; something that can be avoided if people with diabetes take precautions.
This includes keeping blood sugar and cholesterol at healthy levels and attending diabetic eye screening appointments, which are normally offered to diabetics over the age of 12.
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How does diabetes affect the eyes?
The area that diabetic retinopathy specifically affects is a part of the eye known as the retina, the part of the eye that receives and organizes visual information.
The signals the retina receives then sends to the brain, which converts those signals into the images people see.
To function properly, the retina needs a constant supply of blood; Constantly high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels that supply this blood.
Diabetic neuropathy has three different stages. Of these, proliferative retinopathy is the last stage; this is when scar tissue and new blood vessels develop on the retina and cause vision loss.
What are the other phases?
The other stages are background retinopathy and pre-proliferative retinopathy. In the first, the NHS said: “Small bulges form in blood vessels, which can bleed slightly, but usually don’t affect your vision.”
Meanwhile, during pre-proliferative retinopathy, the changes are more severe and there is significant bleeding in the eye.
While these symptoms and experiences may sound unnerving, proliferative retinopathy can be avoided in several ways.
In addition to checking blood sugar, the NHS also advises:
• Follow a healthy, balanced diet
• Lose weight when overweight
• Regular exercise
• Quit smoking
• Do not exceed alcohol limits.
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Is Diabetic Retinopathy Something to Worry About?
Diabetic retinopathy is only something to worry about if someone has diabetes. However, it is good practice to do what one can to preserve their eyesight.
The United States’ CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) has several tips for preserving vision.
In addition to maintaining blood sugar levels, they also recommend following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
In addition to a balanced diet, wearing safety glasses during certain sports can help, as an impact to the eye of a football or other hard object can cause serious damage.
In addition, they also recommend that people look into their own family history to find out whether or not there are any facial-related conditions that run in the family.
Beyond these tips, it’s important to have an annual vision test, especially if vision problems begin to develop.
These exams can not only pick up damage to the eye, but also detect the early signs of other more malignant conditions.
If this malignant medicinal presence is picked up early, its treatment will be much easier than if it were discovered later.