Can Sugar Affect Eye Health?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, March 18, 2021

We all enjoy a sweet treat now and then, but too much sugar in our diet can come at a price.

Here’s how eating excessive amounts of refined sugar can impact your vision and eye health, and how we can help.

Did you know that the average American consumes a shocking 61 pounds of refined sugar per year?

Although delicious, sugar in excessive amounts can pose serious damage to your overall health, including your eyes. In fact, sugar has been linked to several serious eye conditions and diseases.

Although sweet treats may look appealing, they can have a devastating and long lasting impact on the eyes and vision.

High blood sugar levels are a strong risk factor resulting in several sight-threatening eye diseases.

If you have been having issues with your blood sugar levels contact an eye doctor near you to discuss the best options to maintain your clear and comfortable vision.

SEE RELATED: Eyes and Obesity

Find an eye doctor near you

How does sugar affect the eyes?

The link between sugar and eye health is well established, but not as well known. Here’s how consuming too much sugar can harm your eyes and vision.

1. Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and can lead to blindness if left untreated.

In diabetic retinopathy, the high levels of sugar in the blood damage the delicate, tiny blood vessels in the retina, leading to bleeding and scarring inside the eye.

Diabetics can help prevent or minimize the damage caused by diabetic retinopathy by maintaining a stable blood sugar level, exercising, and regularly visiting their eye doctor.

2. Glaucoma

High blood sugar and insulin levels can cause the eyes’ blood vessels to narrow, causing a buildup of fluid that can’t properly drain, resulting in glaucoma

With glaucoma, this fluid buildup increases inner eye pressure, which leads to optic nerve damage.

In 90% of glaucoma cases there are no early symptoms or warning signs as the pressure builds, so people aren’t aware that their eyesight is being irreparably damaged.

People with diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop glaucoma as those without diabetes.

3. Cataracts

Your eye’s natural lens allows your eye to focus light on your retina. In a healthy eye, the lens is clear, but in a person with cataracts, the lens is clouded, making it difficult for the eye to focus incoming light.

Elevated blood sugar can cause the lens to swell and puts you at a higher risk of developing cataracts.

4. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD occurs when the macula, the central portion of the retina, deteriorates impairing central vision and affecting one’s ability to drive, read, watch TV and other daily activities.

Several studies have linked a high-glycemic (high sugar/carbohydrate) diet with the onset and progression of AMD.

How eye doctors help?

Keeping your eyes healthy goes beyond a healthy diet and lifestyle — you also need yearly eye exams to detect early signs of eye disease.

LEARN MORE:  Guide to Eye Health

If you have high blood sugar levels it is essential to schedule regular eye exams.

Eye doctors can provide a wide range of eye care services, including diabetic eye care and will guide you on the optimum options to maintain your clear vision and healthy eyes.