Ireland is now amongst the most overweight nations in Europe. We all know that being overweight is bad for us. It’s bad for our heart, increases our risk of diabetes and has been linked to many cancers. Now research is telling us that our expanding waistlines can affect our eye sight, making us more susceptible to eye conditions which could lead to sight loss. Many people fear losing their sight, often stating that it must be the worse sense of all to lose. Perhaps these findings will incentivise us to pull back from the table and lead a healthier lifestyle.
I hear you wonder well my eye isn’t getting any fatter so how does my weight affect my eyesight?
Age related Macular Degeneration
This is a disease of the retina which causes loss of central vision making some activities such as reading and recognising faces more difficult. In one study they found that obese patients with AMD were more than twice as likely to lose more vision than those with normal BMI ( Body Mass Index). The disease was found to progress more rapidly in patients with high BMI.
Circulation in the Eye
We all know that being overweight puts more pressure on the heart and its ability to pump blood around the body. Obesity is associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. High blood pressure and cholesterol not only affect the blood vessels in our heart but also the small blood vessels in our eyes. When these very small blood vessels are damages they leak blood or haemorrhage blood at the back of the eye. Leaking blood damages the sensitive retina and leads to sight loss which in some cases can be permanent.
Being overweight increases our risk of type 2 diabetes. One of the major complications of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. High sugar levels in the blood damage the small retinal blood vessels making them leak blood into the retina. This leads to lack of oxygen at the back of the eye and loss of sight.
Glaucoma is an eye disease where the optic nerve at the back of the eye is damaged by high pressure in the eye. People with glaucoma lose their peripheral vision. Loss of peripheral vision can affect our ability to drive. There is considerable evidence that Obesity can cause higher pressure in the eye ( IOP) High eye pressure is a risk factor for Glaucoma.
Cataracts occur when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy. This leads to blurred vision. A number of studies have linked obesity to increased risk of certain types of cataract.
What can we do?
Eat less, Move more, have regular eye checks.
Contact Súil Eile for more information