Halloween brings the feeling of fall across the world, with kids dressing up in their best costumes and trick-or-treating among neighbors. Often, they bring back a lot of candy – some of which they inhale immediately, and some of which parents sneak away to hide (or to eat!)
But what happens when you overload on sugar? Those treats turn into a trick and can develop into the following conditions:
Diabetes: According to the American Diabetes Association, research has shown links between sugar and type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends avoiding excess sugar in an attempt to regulate blood glucose. Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes and 8.1 million cases are undiagnosed. Diabetes makes it difficult for your body to produce or use the hormone insulin. Consuming too much sugar causes your body to produce insulin to help your body use and remove this sugar (glucose) from your blood. Otherwise, the sugar builds up in your blood, causing a host of ailments, including vision problems, such as Diabetic retinopathy.
Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of eye damage of people with diabetes. The retina is a group of cells in the back of the eye that transmits visual information from the optic nerve to the brain for processing. In individuals with diabetic retinopathy, elevated and uncontrolled blood sugar levels cause irreversible damages to the delicate blood vessels in the retina, causing visual impairment or blindness, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Cataracts: The lens within your eye allows your eye to focus light and images on your retina and transmits them to your brain. Cataracts cause a clouding of the usually clear lens, making it difficult for your eyes to focus light, resulting in blurred or glared vision. High blood sugars can lead to swelling and changes in the lens and may put you at a higher risk of developing cataracts, according to the American Optometric Association.
Glaucoma: High blood sugars and insulin can cause the blood vessels in the eyes to narrow, creating a buildup of fluid that cannot drain properly. This buildup leads to excessive pressure inside the eye called glaucoma. Usually, there are no symptoms or pain as the pressure builds but, if left untreated, can damage your optic nerve and the blood vessels causing peripheral vision loss and blindness. If you have diabetes, you are nearly twice as likely to develop glaucoma as adults without diabetes.
Macular Degeneration: Having excessive blood sugar levels may make you more susceptible to Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD occurs when the middle part of the retina (macula) deteriorates. The macula is responsible for providing clear, central vision for activities like reading and driving and can cause blurred vision, dimmed vision, or the wavy appearances of straight lines in those with AMD.
Studies have suggested that AMD may progress more quickly in patients whose diets are high in sugar consumption. Results indicate that those at risk of AMD may benefit from minimizing added sugars and refined carbohydrates in their diets to slow the advancement of this blinding eye disease.
Dry eyes can be exacerbated by a high sugar diet (again due to inflammation caused by the sugars). Researchers believe that spikes deliver too much glucose to the eye too quickly and hinder the ability of the organ to utilize the energy provided by the glucose.
You can still have fun during Halloween, but try to avoid the toxic effects of Halloween candy treats. Read the labels to make sure you’re not poisoning your body and harming your vision! A much better and healthier option is to make your Halloween candy treats at home instead. You can control the ingredients and you know exactly what’s in them, limiting sugar and other dangerous substances that harm your eyes as well as your entire body.
As with anything else, take your Halloween candy in moderation. Even a Fun Size candy bar can lead to sugar overload if eaten in excess! You should visit your eye doctor once a year for a comprehensive eye exam and any time you experience symptoms of eye disease. To schedule an appointment with one of our award-winning doctors click here.