Diabetes and Cataracts

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Filed Under: Blood Sugar, Diabetes Complications
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Cataracts, or blind spots in the lens of the eye, are a common affliction of aging. Unfortunately, people with diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing cataracts. Part of the reason for the increased risk relates to how cataracts are formed in the first place.

Cataracts develop as a result of a process known as glycation, which occurs when sugars react with proteins to produce harmful substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). To understand glycation’s effects on the eyes, I like to use the analogy of cracking an egg into a hot frying pan. The clear part of the egg turns white as the proteins undergo glycation. Likewise, when glycation occurs in the protein-dense lens of the eye, the eye clouds over with cataracts.

Because it can take months to years for a cataract to have a noticeable effect on vision once it begins to form, it is important that people managing diabetes have regular eye exams. They should also do all they can to maintain near-normal blood sugar levels—and be open to seeking natural diabetes treatments, including nutritional supplements that help protect the eyes.

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