High Blood Sugar & Cataracts? Didn’t See That One Coming.
The lenses in your eyes are an amazing invention. They focus reflected light onto your retina, turning the light into nervous system signals, which your brain then translates into images. You could say your lenses are windows that let pictures into your brain.
But what happens when those lenses get cloudy?
Your lenses are constructed from proteins called crystallins that (like all other proteins) may experience glycation. That’s when certain types of sugar molecules bond with the proteins to form sticky AGEs (advanced glycation endproducts). Over time, the AGEs link together, forming clumps and chains and creating cloudy patches in the once clear lens. Eventually it becomes impossible to see through the lens, and that’s a cataract.
AGEs aren’t just responsible for cataracts. They also clump together to damage other areas of the eyes, including the cornea, the vitreous (the gel-like liquid filling the eyeball) and the retina. (You’ve heard the term macular degeneration? That’s caused by AGEs.) Scary stuff for sure.
In the United States, about 42% of males and females between age fifty-two and sixty-four suffer from cataracts; that number goes up to 91% for people between 75 and 85. Clearly there’s a problem here – but what’s causing it?
Well, read between the lines.
AGEs are caused by sugar molecules binding with proteins – so could high blood sugar be the problem? Yes, it could. High levels of blood glucose have been linked repeatedly to cataracts and other eye diseases. In lab animals, cataracts can be produced in 90 days just by maintaining a high level of blood sugar. And in humans, diabetics have a five times higher risk of getting cataracts than non-diabetics do.
That means any food that raises your blood sugar could also potentially raise your risk for cataracts.
And it might be a good idea to re-think your eating habits now – while you can still see your grocery list.
To learn more about healthy diet and lifestyle choices, click here.