While it is unclear whether it is the artificial sweeteners themselves, other additives commonly used in conjunction with artificial sweeteners, or the combination of synthetic chemicals, results from a study first published a year ago that is just now making headlines suggest that diet soda is linked with a disease that can lead to blindness in consumers with diabetes. The study indicated there was no such link in consumers who drank regular (non-diet) soda. While many more studies are needed, the takeaway at this point is that diet soda may increase the risk of blindness in people with diabetes.
Overview of findings:
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.
“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.”
-Dr. Eva Fenwick, lead researcher and professor at the Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore
Journal Reference: Fenwick, E.K., et al. (2018) Diet soft drink is associated with increased odds of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, Journal of Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, https://doi.org/10.1111/ceo.13154