When too much carbohydrate or sugar is consumed, the body releases too much insulin. Excess sugar and insulin cause inflammation and are very damaging to blood vessels—including the tiny blood vessels in our eyes.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. The lens is normally clear and used to bring objects into focus by changing their shape from very flat to round. There are several different types of cataracts, but the most common is age related.
Just like hair and nails, the lens of the eye continually breaks down and regenerates, and over time its ability to do so diminishes. High blood sugars can lead to swelling within the lens, creating bubble-like pockets known as vacuoles.
The leading cause of blindness in older adults is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The macula is located at the back of the eye and works to bring images into focus. If the macula becomes damaged, people may find it difficult to recognize faces, read small print, or participate in activities such as sewing or fixing small objects. Family history, smoking, and high blood pressure are known causes of macular degeneration.
The first symptom of macular degeneration is a blurry spot in the center of a person’s vision. Objects may also appear dull. Sometimes people feel as though they need more light to read a book than they did previously. While there is no cure for macular degeneration, high dose supplements of vitamins C, E, A, and zinc have been shown to slow the progression from the initial dry macular degeneration to the advanced wet macular degeneration.
Studies have shown that people who keep their blood sugar levels under control and eat diets high in leafy green vegetables and fatty fish are less likely to develop macular degeneration.
A small study found that people with diabetes were at higher risk for optic neuropathy (damage to the optic nerve) and glaucoma. The most common form is known as open-angle or chronic glaucoma and is caused by increased pressure within the eye which damages the optic nerve that connects the eyes to the brain.
Inside the eye, a clear fluid called aqueous humor needs to leave through a small channel in the front of the eye as more is made. If it cannot drain, the fluid will build up causing an increase in pressure within the eye.
At first, most people have no symptoms, but over time they begin to experience tunnel vision as the nerves are damaged.
Treatment typically consists of eye drops which decrease pressure in the eye.
How does glaucoma relate back to blood sugar?
High blood sugars and excess insulin constrict blood vessels. The smaller the vessel, the higher the pressure exerted by the blood pushing through.
Constricted blood vessels in the drainage channel make it difficult for the aqueous humor to drain. This chain of events leads to increased pressure within the eye, ultimately damaging the optic nerve.
Prevention is the prescription
Instead of waiting for your eyesight to deteriorate, take charge of your health and begin to eat foods that can prevent these age-related diseases. If you have elevated blood sugars or high blood pressure, start eating a lower carbohydrate diet that focuses on vegetable carbs instead of processed carbs.
Vegetables which include Vitamins A, C, and E, are naturally high in eye-protecting nutrients.