Diabetes and Diet: Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can lead to small-blood-vessel disease. And the eyes have small blood vessels. The longer you’ve had diabetes and the higher your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to get diabetic eye disease, or diabetic retinopathy,” explains Emily Chew, the deputy clinical director of the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.


“The small vessels can actually close up, and the body reacts by developing abnormal new vessels, which can cause hemorrhaging and scarring. A bleed in the eye could block vision. It can actually detach the whole retina and cause blindness.”

Lower blood sugar, however, can protect against diabetic retinopathy. “If you have diabetes, you’re doing very well if you keep your hemoglobin A1c—that’s a long-term measure of blood sugar levels—around or below 7 percent,” explains Chew. “We’ve proven in studies that people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who have tight control on their blood sugar have less progression of diabetic eye disease. It could be as much as a 70 percent reduction.”

“That’s tremendous. No drug can give you that. It’s also crucial for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to manage their blood pressure and cholesterol,” says Chew.


Other relevant links:

4 Replies to “Diabetes and Diet: Diabetic Retinopathy”

  1. In our CHIP program where we advocate a simple whole food plant based die coupled with daily exercise (www.CHIPhealth.com),we have observed several diabetics whose drop in blood pressure, blood glucose, diabetic medication and lipid levels also improved their retinopathies to the point that laser treatments were no longer necessary.

  2. I so wish I could get my best friend’s husband to realize how bad diabetes can be on the body if you don’t change your eating habits. He’s like, “I take a pill!” And then he eats a sandwich of two pieces of white bread with one slice gobbed with butter and the other slice gobbed with mayo and slapped together. That is it!!! I didn’t believe it until I actually saw him make that sandwich. My mouth just dropped!!

  3. You can’t convert a diabetic guy. They don’t want to be “boxed” in to special diets. I know since I have 2 male friends (one already deceased) who felt that way and no amount of knowledge could change them to a plant based diet like mine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *