A new study published in Nutrition and Metabolism showed that patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, who were diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy (DR), had a low intake of fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as palmitic and oleic acid.
Essential fatty acids are fundamental to the body as they are needed mainly in order to help provide energy as well as be utilized as raw material to be converted into other substances that aid in bodily functions, like hormones. Although many fatty acids can be made by the individual, there are two essential fatty acids that can only be obtained from diet: linolenic and alpha-linoleic acid, used to synthesize omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids . They are called essential, because of their importance in growth and development; and can be obtained from walnuts, vegetable oils such as flaxseeds, canola and soybean oil 
It has been shown that excess body fat, lack of physical activity, poor dietary choices, stress and smoking have the greatest influence on the development of diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2), especially in patients with a positive family history. The classic symptoms of diabetes are thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, fatigue, and poor wound healing. Some patients do not present any symptoms during the initial stages of the disease and are diagnosed during a routine testing. Early diagnosis is critical and adjusting lifestyle choices can potentially reverse symptoms of diabetes or slow down progression of the disease.
Patients that are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus experience short term adverse events, such as hypoglycemia which is low blood glucose (low sugar levels) which can manifest as sweating, shortness of breath, rapid beating of the heart, anxiety, headaches, sleepiness, and confusion,. The long-term effects of this diagnosis pertain to more serious hurdles. Diabetic neuropathy is amongst many long-term effects that cause nerve damage to nerves going to your digestive tract, bladder, and hands and feet . Macrovascular and cardiovascular complications are also potential risks in which the large blood vessels of the heart, brain, and legs can get damaged, along with the possibility of stroke, heart attack and poor circulation of extremities . Chronically uncontrolled blood glucose levels can also cause microvascular complications such as decrease in kidney function, potentially leading to kidney failure; and diabetic retinopathy in which, damage to retinal blood vessels leads to worsening of vision and possibly blindness [2, 3].
This study incorporated 146 patients with diabetic retinopathy and 148 patients without with ages ranging from 40 to 75 years. Data for this study was collected from previously gathered standard Food Frequency Questionnaire and from assessments done during regular ophthalmology (study of the eyes) examinations. The principle purpose of this study was to describe an association of macronutrient intake, specifically fatty acids and the development of diabetic retinopathy in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Statistical analyses showed that patients with high oleic acid intake had a reduced occurrence of diabetic retinopathy in relation to those patients with low intake of these macronutrients. Association between Oleic Acid and retinopathy showed especially true in those who have been suffering from diabetes for many years. This means that the longer someone has diabetes, the great the influence of low oleic acid intake has on the development of diabetic retinopathy.
- Mercola, Dr. “What You Should Know About Fatty Acids.” com. N.p., 11 Nov. 2011. Web. 21 June 2016.
- Leontis, Lisa M., and Amy Hess-Fischl. “Type 2 Diabetes Complications.” EndocrineWeb. N.p., 2016. Web. 21 June 2016.
- Victorian Minister of Health. “Diabetes- Long-term Effects.” Diabetes Australia Victoria. N.p., n.d. Web.
- Connor, William E. “Alpha-Linolenic Acid in health and disease.” American Society for Clinical Nutrition. May 1999; 69 (5): 827-828