Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that can result in vision loss. Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet and selecting appropriate foods can help manage blood sugar, which in turn can help prevent damage to the eyes.
Diabetic retinopathy is a
As the damage to these blood vessels becomes more severe, people may start to experience symptoms such as floating spots, empty areas of vision, or blurred vision. Eventually, people may experience vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness.
In this article, we outline suitable foods to include and those to limit to help manage diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, we explain at causes, risk factors, and prevention strategies for diabetic retinopathy.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) explains that carefully selecting types of carbohydrates to eat can help a person avoid hyperglycemia. This, in turn, helps to
A person may wish to try the Diabetes Plate Method. This is a simple guide for helping people plan portioned meals of balanced, nutritious foods. This strategy involves dividing a plate and filling half with vegetables low in starch, a quarter with lean proteins, and a quarter with carbohydrates.
- Non-starchy vegetables: These include asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, peppers, spinach, and zucchini.
- Lean proteins: These include chicken, turkey, eggs, salmon, shrimp, lentils, hummus, nuts, tofu, and tempeh.
- Carbohydrates: These include brown rice, oats, bulgur, quinoa, potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, and fruit.
The ADA provides the following list of foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that are also beneficial for overall health:
- dark green, leafy vegetables
- citrus fruits
- fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
- whole grains
- milk and yogurt
People may also want to try following certain eating patterns. This term refers to foods or groups of foods that a person typically eats on a daily basis as part of their diet. While not all eating patterns may be suitable for everyone, popular diet options include:
It is advisable to limit foods and drinks that may have negative effects on blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. The
- foods high in salt, such as chips, crackers, and pizza
- fried foods and other foods high in saturated fat and trans fat, such as fries, burgers, and cakes
- sweets, such as baked goods, candy, and ice cream
- beverages with added sugars, such as regular soda, juice, and regular sports or energy drinks
- highly refined or processed foods, such as white bread, white pasta, and cured meats
Click here to learn more about foods to avoid with diabetes.
The ADA notes that the longer a person has had diabetes, the more likely they are to develop retinopathy. Over time, evidence suggests that more than
The condition occurs when long periods of high blood sugar lead to damage in the retina, which contains delicate blood vessels. Having too much sugar in the blood can block these blood vessels, causing them to leak fluid or bleed. To compensate, the eyes grow new blood vessels that do not work well and are prone to leaking and bleeding.
High blood sugar is a risk factor for the condition, and the ADA advises that keeping it within a person’s target level may delay or help prevent retinopathy.
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy may present with no symptoms. Because of this, it is advisable that a person attends annual eye exams. Avoiding or delaying appointments may be a risk factor for disease development.
However, in the later stages of the condition, a doctor may recommend the following treatments, especially if someone has changes to their vision:
- injections into the eye using medications such as anti-VEGF drugs or corticosteroids
- laser treatment to reduce swelling in the retina, make the blood vessels shrink, and stop leaking
- a vitrectomy, which is a type of eye surgery that doctors may recommend if the retina is bleeding or there are a lot of scars in the eye
According to the
- doing regular physical activity
- eating a balanced, nutritious diet
- carefully following a doctor’s instructions for insulin or other diabetes medications
- regularly monitoring blood sugar and maintaining a suitable A1C level
- managing blood pressure and cholesterol
Following a suitable eating plan can help a person to manage their blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Doing this can help a person manage diabetes and reduce their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
It is advisable to focus on whole foods, such as lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables, and whole grains. People can also make other lifestyle choices, such as getting regular exercise. Importantly, a person should attend regular eye appointments to help maintain their eye health.