diabetic retinopathy

  1. Diabetic retinopathy risk drops with omega-3 intake

    Protect your eyes from diabetes

    Happy Labor Day, my friend. Take this day and enjoy it -- spend time with your family as summer starts to wind down.

    But if you have diabetes, don't let your guard down... because this isn't just a disease.

    It's a WAR, and you've got to fight tooth and nail every single day -- including holidays -- to protect literally everything you hold dear.

    This disease can damage your body from head to toe, increasing the risk of everything from dementia to foot amputations.

    And while heart disease gets most of the attention, your vision could suffer every bit as much -- because diabetes treats your eyeballs the way a 9 Iron treats golf balls.

    Now, new research reveals a way to fight some of the worst damage in your eyes to save your vision.

    As luck would have it, it's also one of the best ways to protect your heart, too... making it absolutely perfect for diabetics.

    It's the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil -- and the new study finds they can cut your risk of diabetic retinopathy almost in half by protecting the little blood vessels inside your eyes.

    Think of those blood vessels as the pipes running just under your floor. If they spring a leak, the whole floor could rot -- especially since you almost certainly won't notice anything wrong until it's much too late and the damage is done.

    It's the same story in your eyes.

    Those blood vessels can leak, spilling blood and other fluid into your eyes. That's already bad enough -- that alone can set the stage for inflammation and vision loss -- but then something else happens.

    New blood vessels form because of those leaks. They think they're helping by picking up the slack from damaged blood vessels.

    But they're not.

    These new blood vessels are weaker and leak even more, causing the condition to get worse and potentially leading to blindness.

    But the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can slow or stop that process, perhaps by strengthening those beleaguered blood vessels.

    Just 500 mg per day of omega-3s will cut the risk of diabetic retinopathy by 48 percent, according to the study out of Spain.

    Along with cutting the risk of vision loss, these healthy fatty acids can cut the risk of heart attack, dementia and more -- and may even help protect your mood, too.

    The folks who participated in the new study got what they needed from eating fatty fish roughly twice a week, which is naturally the best way to get omega-3s along with a healthy source of protein.

    You'll also find omega-3s in walnuts, and lower levels of them in cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower -- but the best way to ensure you get what you need is with a quality omega-3 supplement from a maker you trust.

  2. Eye disease linked to brain disorders

    Keep an eye on your eyes -- because your peepers just might be the first part of your body to spy dementia coming.

    That's especially true if your eyes are getting an up-close look at retinopathy, an eye condition that often leads to vision loss and even blindness.

    It's bad enough on its own, but now researchers say a new look at data on more than 500 women finds that dementia and retinopathy may come hand-in-hand -- or as close to hand-in-hand as brains and eyes can be, anyway.

    Researchers say women given annual memory and thinking tests for up to a decade were much more likely to flunk them if they had the eye disease -- and that was true even if they had the blood vessel damage in the retina that marks the condition, but didn't have any actual vision problems yet.

    Of course, that blood vessel damage isn't truly a disease all its own. Retinopathy is usually a warning of something else going on -- another condition that could be causing the same type of blood vessel damage in much less visible areas.

    Like the brain.

    And sure enough, brain scans of the women in the new study revealed that those who had the eye disease also had blood vessel damage inside the brain itself.

    Obviously, the answer here isn't just treating the eyes. It's finding and treating the underlying condition before it's too late. Or better yet, avoiding the condition in the first place -- and that means taking care of the rest of your body, because one of the leading causes of retinopathy is diabetes.

    In fact, the two conditions are so closely linked that diabetic retinopathy is now the leading cause of new blindness among middle-aged Americans -- and we know that diabetics are also more likely to suffer from dementia.

    You've heard of killing two birds with one stone, right? Avoid diabetes, and you'll likely avoid three diseases (or more) at the same time.

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