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How Sugar Impacts Eye Health

How Sugar Impacts Eye Health

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Your eyes are amazing organs that provide you a window to the world, but without some healthy lifestyle choices, your eye health can suffer. Sugar, in particular, can be damaging to your eye function and health.

Blood Sugar and Eye Problems 

As sugar builds up in the blood, it causes a variety of problems. One of the items on the list is vision problems. The eye is a delicate, intricate structure, and messing with any of the tiny components can cause major vision issues. 

Elevated blood sugar levels can cause inflammation and damage to the delicate blood vessels of the retina. It can also cause swelling and distortion of the lens within the eye and may lead to cataracts. High blood sugar (combined with insulin) can also cause blood vessels to narrow, preventing adequate drainage. This can increase pressure within the eye (glaucoma) which damages the optic nerve and various blood vessels.

Diabetes and Eye Health

It’s been established that the link between sugar and type 2 diabetes is a strong one, and people with diabetes are at a much higher risk of eye and vision problems than the general population. When blood glucose is elevated over time, as with uncontrolled prediabetes and diabetes, the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eyes get damaged. These damaged vessels may leak fluid, swell and cause too much pressure within the eye, or even trigger new vessels to begin growing within the eye. Resulting problems can include bleeding, scarring, and dangerous amounts of pressure.

Eye diseases commonly linked with diabetes include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, diabetic macular edema, and cataracts. All of these can lead to partial or complete vision loss.

Sugar Hastens Age-Related Vision Problems

Another way that sugar contributes to eye and vision problems is by hastening the aging process. Aging and inflammation bring about problems like macular degeneration, and this happens faster in people who consume high quantities of sugar. Studies have shown that the higher the amount of sugar in the diet, the more likely people were to have advanced age-related macular degeneration in at least one eye.

How Eye Health Impacts Overall Health (and Vice Versa)

Your overall nutrition impacts your eye health, since your eyes require certain nutrients (such as vitamins A, B, C, and E) in order to function. Eating too much sugar doesn’t leave enough room in the diet for the necessary vitamins and other nutrients that the eyes need to do their job.

Flipping things around, the health of your eyes also impacts your overall health. People with vision problems are more likely to also suffer from heart problems, hypertension, back pain, depression, and diabetes.

Promoting Eye Health

In order to maximize your eye health (and therefore overall health), consider some of the following lifestyle modifications:

  •       Give up sugar and choose healthier alternatives
  •       Wear sunglasses to protect sensitive eyes from UV exposure
  •       Choose anti-inflammatory foods that are high in essential vitamins and nutrients

o   Examples include fish, low-glycemic carbs like brown rice, beans, nuts, vegetables, and fruits

  •       Avoid smoking
  •       Minimize eye strain by taking breaks from screen time and using anti-glare screens
  •       Wear protective eyewear during activities like sports, woodworking, welding, etc.

By choosing a healthy lifestyle designed to protect your eyes in both the short and long-term timelines, you prioritize your overall health and wellbeing.