Diet soft drinks have been studied for many years and the warnings have gone out repeatedly. Sugar-free soft drinks can increase the risk of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. Scientists have linked diet drinks to the problem because they actually taste extremely sweet. They trick the body into thinking there is sugar and therefore it responds as if sugar was consumed in mass quantity. In fact, those who drink regular soft drinks with sugar in them do not have this same problem.
In studies of people drinking diet soft drinks, 25% of them have had retinopathy develop. This is a remarkably high percentage. People are being warned to stay away from diet drinks.
Better or Worse?
These drinks are often marketed as being the best choice for those who are weight watching. Many are fooled into thinking of these alternative drink options as a healthy food choice, with the reality being that they are horrible for you. Artificial sweeteners in the soft-drinks have been linked to other health issues besides the retinopathy that ultimately leads to blindness.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the exact condition linked to diet soft drinks. This is an advanced form of retinopathy where new capillaries try to grow and then leak into the clear fluid in the back of the eye, creating cloudy vision that can ultimately lead to total blindness. Treatment exists, a laser surgery called photocoagulation.
What is Retinopathy?
Retinopathy is leaking of the tiny capillaries in the back of the eye. When blood becomes thick, an effect of having high blood sugar, it puts pressure on the walls of the tiniest capillaries in the body first. For some, this is fingers and toes, and for some, the eyes. Many diabetics ultimately go blind from not taking care of their blood sugar.
As the blood leaks out of ruptures in the capillaries, it forms clots and pockets of fluid in the back of the eye that begin to make vision blurry and ultimately can block vision completely, causing total blindness. Victims of retinopathy report vision that comes and goes and starts with blurriness that gets worse, then better, until eventually they may wake-up unable to see at all.
As you might imagine, someone with diabetes may be drinking diet soft drinks thinking that they are making wise choices when they are actually drinking something that can contribute to their risk of retinopathy.