This story starts about two weeks ago with an early afternoon visit to my optometrist for an annual eye exam. I've been myopic in both eyes since the fifth grade, and have worn glasses full time since my freshman year in college. For the last 10 years, my prescription has remained relatively stable - about -3.25 diopters in my right eye and -4.25 diopters in my left.
As I am sitting in the exam chair on that Wednesday afternoon, the doctor configures the lens system for my current prescription, and asks me to read the letters projected on the wall. I can only read the largest row, and only barely. "Really?" he asks. "Really," I reply.
"That is your current prescription - that's what was used in the glasses you wear currently," said Dr. Froumis. I insisted the letters were quite blurry. After 10 minutes of adjusting, it was determined that each of my eyes had become one full diopter more myopic since my last visit.
"That rate of change, in both eyes, is what you might expect to see in a rapidly growing teenager, but not in an adult with a 10 year history of stable vision," he said. "Oh, and I see you have a family history of diabetes. That's not good."
As it turns out, high levels of circulating blood sugar are know to distend the lenses in the human eye, increasing the level of myopia. I insist that I am not currently diabetic (which I am not), and that I eat a rigorously - almost ridiculously - strict sugar and starch-less diet. Dr. Froumis recommended I see my primary care physician to have my blood glucose levels checked.
I managed to make a late morning appointment for the very next day. The nurse used a standard glucose meter to take a quick measurement in the office. The result was 98mg/dL, which was at the high end of the 'normal range' (70-100 is normal, 101-125 is elevated, fasting glucose above 125 is considered diabetic). The doctor insisted that I was not diabetic, but he could not think of another reason for the sudden change in vision.
Deciding to take matters into my own hands - which is exactly what you'd expect me to do - I ordered an Accu-Chek Aviva testing kit from Amazon.com (Blood glucose meter, lancets, test strips, and lancing device). It arrived on a Thursday.
When I woke up just after 6am on Friday, I took my first reading after 12 hours of no food: 96mg/dL. This is as close to a 'fasting blood glucose' level as I am likely to get.
This felt a bit high, but not dangerously high. So I got up, ate breakfast (3 eggs plust 60g of protein powder mix) - all protein and fat, zero carbohydrates, for a total calorie count just under 500kcal. I then went to the gym, came home for coffee and measured again at around 8:30am. This time, the value came back with 95mg/dL. It had actually decreased by 1 point.
After that it was off to the office. My lunch boxes for the day were 250kcals of steamed green beans and fresh spinach. No oil, no dressing, no nothing. Just veggies.
I ate the first veggie box at 12 noon on Friday. I then waited the recommended 1-2 hours, and measured again at 1:28pm. I was expecting to see only a slight rise, to perhaps 110 or 115mg/dL. The actual value? 138mg/dL.
At the same time, I measured two co-workers. One had a lunch of a burger, fries and coke. His reading? 110mg/dL. The other had a few slices of pizza and a coke. His reading? 105mg/dL. Me with my 250kcal portion of veggies? 138mg/dL.
WHAT THE FUCK?!
An hour and a half after the other portion of veggies - another 250kcal of green beans and spinach, and the reading was up to 122mg/dL.
And yet, the measurements continued. Just before dinner that evening at 6pm, I measured again - 104mg/dL. For dinner that night, it was all fat and protein again - 500kcal of eggs and protein powder. An hour and a half later? Down to 96mg/dL.
CONTROL MEASUREMENTS COMPLETE.
The real experimentation began on Saturday morning. Wanting to prove that it was the small amount of complex carbohydrates in my veggie boxes that had sent the value skyward on Friday, I decided to make Saturday a very high calorie, zero carbohydrate day.
Woke up at 6am. Reading was 108mg/dL. Ate 3 eggs, 80g protein powder mixed with a two fistfuls of brazil nuts and two tablespoons of coconut oil, with a dash of stevia. Went the gym. Measured again at 8:27am - 99mg/dL.
Continued measuring every two hours throughout the day on Saturday. The value never went above 99mg/dL, and by 7:30pm it had fallen back to 96mg/dL. Over the course of the day I had consumed at least 3500kcal of fat and protein. Nary a drop of carbohydrate. The blood glucose remained remarkably constant.
What does this mean for me?
I am fairly sure that my genetic predisposition to Type 2 diabetes (runs in the family, very strongly, on my Mom's side) has resulted in either a loss of insulin production (causing blood sugars to accumulate and remain in the blood longer then they ought to) or a lack of sensitivity to insulin (causing the same symptoms).
To be honest, I'm not sure what the long term plan is. I suppose I could transition to a very low-carbohydrate diet in order to prevent my glucose levels from ever spiking into the danger zone. Or I could talk to my doctor about long-term medications, which I am very reluctant to consider.
Or perhaps my genetics will get the better of me in the end. Perhaps I should just resign myself to the inevitable onset of Type 2 diabetes, and enjoy all the sugary snacks I can before the onset. Probably not a wise choice.
First, this may help to explain the sudden change in vision. I had visited the optometrist at 1:15pm - just after eating one of my 250kcal steamed veggie boxes consisting primarily of carrots and sugar snap peas. Given my reaction (95 to 138) to green beans and spinach, I suspect the lunch I had eaten just prior to that visit had my glucose levels well above 140mg/dL. Blood sugar levels need to be very high to cause myopia according to this article, but this may be a possible explanation.
My plan it to schedule a follow-up visit to the optometrist at around 9/10am after my protein/fat-only breakfast. If my hypothesis is correct, my vision should be back to normal.
I'll post those results as soon as I have them.