Regular consumers of such drinks are more than twice as likely to have the condition.
It is becoming increasingly clear that regular consumption of artificially sweetened diet soft drinks is just simply bad for us. Of course, routine consumption of regular soft drinks with sugar is not a good idea either. Unfortunately, many people believe that they are being “healthy” when they substitute diet sodas for their sugar-laden counterparts; however, both have been shown to substantially increase the risk of multiple forms of cardiovascular disease.
But what about complications specific to diabetic eye disease? While they have limitations, the results of the research presented in this article are nonetheless sobering. Study participants who consumed over four diet soft drinks per week more than doubled their risk of developing proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). It is interesting that no increased risk of DME was discovered, just an increase in PDR.
On first glance, it is also very surprising that there was no association between routine consumption of regular soft drinks and the presence of either PDR or DME. So, are regular soft drinks actually better than diet? Probably not. There were so few patients who reported drinking more than four regular soft drinks per week, just six people, that the authors had to include anyone who drank any number of regular sodas each week, even as few as one. This may have influenced the findings and masked a potential association.
At any rate, we can feel confident in telling our patients that drinking sodas routinely, even if just a few each week, can be reasonably expected to have negative consequences.
- Brad Sutton, OD, FAAO
Clinical professor, Indiana University School of Optometry