High-sugar foods Image

How High-Sugar Foods Affect Your Eyesight

Eating a lot of high-sugar foods can have detrimental effects on the body. I know, shocking, isn’t it?!

Mainly, eating too much sugar will cause metabolic dysfunction. Metabolic dysfunction can cause weight gain, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

But, did you know that eating too much sugar can also affect your eyesight? Much like metabolic dysfunction, sugar can leave your eyes prone to certain diseases. How sugar will affect your eyesight depends on what kind of sugar was consumed and how much.

Curbing those sugar cravings isn’t easy. Today, we’ll talk about how high-sugar foods are harming your eyes. And, how you can satisfy your sweet tooth with healthy, eye-friendly alternatives.

High-sugar foods ImageThe Truth About Sugar

No sugar is created equal. Just like good and bad fats, there is good and bad sugar. Knowing the difference, however, can be challenging. Health blogs tell us to cut back on sugar, but fruit has a ton of natural sugar. So, is it good or bad for you?

America has a longstanding relationship with sugar, but the relationship seems to be a toxic one. Now more than ever, the food we buy is being made with more and more sugar, pre-made food, especially. Added sugar can be found in tomato sauces, cereal, and even cans of tuna.

The sugar found in such products is not natural sugar, but a refined sugar. It gets processed from two different types of sugar sources, typically sugar beet and sugar cane. This is what we’ve come to know as white sugar. Love it or hate it, refined sugar is in way more food than you’d imagine. And, it’s making us all unhealthy.

But what about fruit sugar? Many have concluded that if something is natural then it must be good for you. Even an over-consumption of natural fruit sugar can have unhealthy repercussions on the body. Unlike refined sugar which has zero nutritional value, fruit provides healthy carbs, fiber and lots of vitamins.

The bottom line is that eating less sugar, refined or natural, is better. Though fruit is natural, it can still cause your body to crash when too much sugar is consumed all at once.

Sugar in the Body

When sugar is consumed, the body will do one of two things. Either it will burn the sugar and use it for energy, or it will take the sugar and store it as fat. All those times you thought your weight gain was due to fatty foods, it was actually the sugar.

When sugar is consumed, insulin is released by the body to regulate your blood sugar levels. However, when too much sugar is consumed at once and the insulin can’t balance it quick enough, the body suffers from a sugar crash. This will often leave us feeling sluggish and fatigued.

This goes for both natural and refined sugar. It’s important to watch your sugar consumption either way.

How It Affects the Eyes

High-sugar foods like soda, candy, mangoes, and pineapples can leave your eyes vulnerable to diseases. Sugar ultimately diminishes your immune system. When your body’s natural defenses are down, it is easier for diseases to form.

Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy

It has been proven to be a myth that type 1 diabetes is caused by an over-consumption of sugar. But, a link has been made between sugar intake and type 2 diabetes.

Someone with type 2 diabetes will have difficulty producing the amount of insulin needed to balance sugar in the body. They will have to inject themselves with the right amount of insulin to keep the body regulated. If blood sugar levels are not regulated, it can lead to diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in the eye begin to leak and new blood vessels begin to grow abnormally. This causes spotting in your vision and can lead to severe vision impairment or blindness if not treated properly.

Macular Degeneration

Those who consume lots of high-sugar foods will increase their risk of developing macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a disease often associated with old age. But when you eat too much sugar, you can speed up the macular degeneration and trigger the disease early.

Macular degeneration affects the macula which is found at the center of the retina. As it begins to degenerate, your central vision will become poorer and poorer. It is the leading cause of blindness among older generations.

Cataracts

Cataracts are caused by a protein buildup on the lens of the eye. When this happens, gray spots will appear in the center of your pupil. This also affects your central vision.

It is thought that high blood sugar will lead the eyes to swell and put too much pressure on the lens. When this happens, it will allow more protein to buildup, stick to the lens, and speed up the formation of cataracts.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a common disease among older people. It develops when the eye is unable to properly drain out excess fluid. This causes an increase in intraocular pressure, which can lead to impaired vision and sometimes eye pain.

High blood sugar can cause the blood vessels in the eye to become narrow. This will then lead to a buildup of fluid that cannot drain properly, causing glaucoma.

What to Eat Instead

There’s no need to fight those sugar cravings. They happen and they won’t go away until they’re satisfied. But, when they happen, you can make an effort to eat the right sugars. Instead of reaching for a cookie or candy bar the next time the craving strikes, grab a handful of fruit.

But, don’t grab just any fruit. You’ll want a fruit that ranks low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index was created to rank the foods that cause spikes in blood sugar. The food is typically ranked out of 100, with 100 being the largest blood sugar spike.

Here are some fruits that are low on the glycemic index:

  • Berries
  • Figs
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Grapefruit

Next time you have a sugar craving, ask yourself if going for the candy is worth risking your eye health.

 

Resources

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About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics (just like his brother) with the dream of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he joined Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent nearly two decades studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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