Type 2 Diabetes – Your Blood Pressure Reading May Predict Diabetic Retinopathy

In July of 2017, the online journal Scientific Reports (Nature) published an article on diabetic retinopathy and the importance to people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes of keeping on top of their blood pressure reading. Workers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil studied five hundred and forty-four Type 2 diabetics who were at high risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, a severe eye disease. Over the course of six years, the participants had an annual eye examination. Their blood pressure reading was taken as they went about their normal routines. Their aorta (artery from the heart to the rest of the body), was examined for stiffness. By the end of the study, one hundred and fifty-six of the participants either developed diabetic retinopathy or saw the condition grow worse. They had…

  • a higher blood pressure measurement,
  • a longer duration of having Type 2 diabetes,
  • a stiffer aorta,
  • poorer blood sugar control, and
  • higher LDL (“bad”) cholesterol measurements.

than the participants without diabetic retinopathy.

Diastolic (lower number) blood pressure and high LDL were the measurements most strongly linked with diabetic retinopathy.

To lower blood pressure…

  • engage in physical activity several times a week.
  • take your dog to the park.
  • go swimming.
  • walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
  • park at the farthest reaches of the parking lot and walk to the shops.
  • normalize your weight or keep it in a healthy range.
  • take the blood pressure medication prescribed by your doctor.

To lower LDL…

  • eat different fruits, nuts, vegetables, and whole wheat products.
  • avoid fatty foods such as meat and dairy products.
  • cook with extra virgin olive or other vegetable oil instead of butter.

Diabetic retinopathy develops when sugar in the blood damages small arteries in the back of the eye. New, weak, incompetent blood vessels proliferate. Sometimes there is bleeding into the eye’s center. The condition often goes unnoticed until it has advanced sufficiently to cause sight issues. Usually, dots or lines (floaters) can be seen, problems with different colors are noticed as well as loss of vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed by an ophthalmologic exam, which is one reason why regular eye exams are essential. When retinopathy is diagnosed, laser surgery can cauterize or stop troublesome blood vessels developing.

One study put together thirty-five earlier individual studies showing how much diabetic retinopathy exists in the world. The results showed about 34.6 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes have the condition. Preventing or controlling Type 2 diabetes protects many important parts of your body, and your eyesight is one of them. Unfortunately, many Type 2 diabetics fail to take their condition seriously because it does not hurt. Your eyes are two good reasons to keep your blood sugar and body weight under control.