Wed, Jan 09, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Woman’s milk tea habit causes diabetes, ‘ocular stroke’

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer

Ophthalmologist Hsieh Chia-lin examines a patient’s retina at the Chung Shan Hospital in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Lin Hsiang-mei, Taipei Times

People who have a sweet tooth and a penchant for milk tea may have to exercise some restraint for the sake of their health, after a 25-year-old woman from Taipei suffered a retinal hemorrhage, also known as “ocular stroke,” after her long-term consumption of the high-sugar beverage resulted in her developing diabetes.

Taipei-based Chung Shan Hospital ophthalmologist Hsieh Chia-lin (解佳霖), who treated the patient, surnamed Huang (黃), said that the woman came in for outpatient service after she suffered significantly reduced vision and mild swelling of her left eyelid.

After a preliminary examination of Huang’s eyes indicated the possibility of diabetes, Hsieh inquired about her lifestyle and discovered that she had been consuming at least two glasses of milk tea a day for a long time.

“We then consulted the hospital’s division of endocrinology and metabolism and came to the conclusion that the patient has contracted diabetes and hyperlipidemia, which have led to her retinal bleeding,” Hsieh said.

Diabetics who fail to control their blood sugar levels may see their retinal veins becoming thinner and less resilient, which could slow down their blood flow and cause blockages in the veins, Hsieh said.

“If the condition is left untreated, they become particularly susceptible to blurred vision and retinal hemorrhages,” Hsieh added.

Urging people who exhibit such symptoms to seek medical help, Hsieh said that although Huang’s vision would not return to normal even after treatment, “at least she did not lose her eyesight completely.”

Hsieh also cautioned against overconsumption of sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Hsieh said such overconsumption is common among young people, who wrongly assume that their age will preclude them from developing diabetes, despite their unhealthy eating habits.

“With the Lunar New Year holidays around the corner, snacks such as sticky rice cakes, candies and cookies may tempt people with diabetes,” Hsieh said.

“However, they should nevertheless manage their blood sugar levels and pay close heed to any abnormal physical changes,” Hsieh added.

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