HealthDay News — Diet soda consumption may up the odds of diabetic retinopathy (DR), according to a study published online in Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology.

Eva K. Fenwick, PhD, from University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues surveyed 609 adult patients with diabetes with a Food Frequency Questionnaire to assess the relationship between regular and diet soft drink consumption and DR and diabetic macular edema (DME).

The researchers found that 46.8% of participants consumed diet soft drinks and 31.2% consumed regular soft drinks. A total of 37.8% had no DR, 5.9% had mild non-proliferative DR (NPDR), 25.3% had moderate NPDR, 4.6% had severe NPDR, and 24.0% had proliferative DR (PDR). 

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Compared to those with no diet soft drink consumption, there was an independent association between high diet soft drink consumption and increased likelihood of having PDR (odds ratio, 2.51). There was no association seen between regular soft drink consumption and DR or DME.

“Consuming >4 cans (1.5 liters)/week of diet soft drink is associated with a more than 2-fold risk of having PDR in patients with diabetes,” the authors write.

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Fenwick EK, Gan ATL, Kidd Man RE, et al. Diet soft drink is associated with increased odds of proliferative diabetic retinopathy [published online January 23, 2018]. Clin Exp Ophthalmol. doi: 10.1111/ceo.13154