Diet soda may increase the risk of blindness in people with diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology.
Diet soft drinks are often marketed as healthier alternatives to regular soda but the new study suggests that they may be harmful to the health of diabetics.
The study, conducted at Singapore Eye Research Institute, showed that a quarter of the participants who drank diet soda as a substitute for the regular soft drinks had proliferative diabetic retinopathy, a disease that leads to blindness.
Those who drank more than four 12-ounce servings of diet soda a week were more than 2.5 times more likely to have the disease while those who regularly drank sugar-sweetened soft drinks were not as likely to have the disorder.
“In our clinical sample of people with diabetes, consuming, consuming more than four cans or more than 1.5 litres of diet soft drinks per week was associated with twofold increased risk of having proliferative diabetic retinopathy,” Eva Fenwick, the lead researcher and professor at the Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore, explained.
“Our finding that regular soft drink was not associated with increased risk of proliferative diabetic retinopathy could be due to the small number of high consumers.
“Although the results of our study may be interpreted within the context of several limitations, they add to the growing body of literature on the harmful effects of diet drinks on a range of health outcomes including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”