Have you taken a look into your blood sugar lately? It’s currently estimated that over 100 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes, with that number growing each year. What’s more, many diabetes cases go undiagnosed for up to 10 years — but hopefully not for long. New research suggests that a simple eye test could help predict the onset of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
But what do blood sugar and your eyes have to do with each other? More than you might imagine, actually. The research published by the American Diabetes Association found that our eyes can reveal some significant insight into our blood sugar levels. Our bodies produce a compound called advanced glycation end-product (AGE) when fat and sugar combine in the bloodstream. Excess AGE is associated with diabetes, and high levels of AGE in the blood can contribute to diabetes symptoms like vision loss and nerve damage. “Proteins in the lens of the eye do not turnover and therefore give an indication of the average glucose levels over a very long period of time,” says the researchers. In other words, our eyes hold on to AGE and detecting these compounds can tell us whether or not our blood sugar has been consistently high.
With this in mind, they set out to determine if they could detect differences in AGE levels in the eyes of healthy and diabetic subjects using a special biomicroscope scan of the lens of their eyes. Twenty people with type 2 diabetes were tested, as well as 20 healthy subjects, and 20 with impaired glucose intolerance (IGT), a pre-diabetic condition. Results showed that those with type 2 diabetes had significantly higher levels of AGE in their eyes compared to healthy subjects. What was even more surprising was that those with impaired glucose tolerance also showed to have high AGE’s. According to the researchers, this means that the eye scan could help predict the onset of diabetes.
The ability to detect diabetes earlier is a major milestone in healthcare and science. "Lens autofluorescence could be a robust marker of long-term diabetes control predicting future complication risks," Mitra Tavakoli, PhD, lead author of the study, said in a press release. "This supports the feasibility of noninvasive lens autofluorescence to screen subjects for undiagnosed type 2 diabetes and prediabetes subjects. Although this is a pilot study, it's an exciting emerging new tool for early detection and monitoring the treatment of patients."
This is a very exciting new scientific development that we hope will help combat this debilitating condition. Looking for some other natural ways to slash your diabetes risk? Check out some of our suggestions for keeping your blood sugar steady, here.