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Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

Awareness about the dangers of obesity is at an all-time high, with TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and health initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!”. These highlight the importance of fitness and good nutrition. The relationship between obesity and high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes are well known. The damaging effects on eye health and vision may be less well known.

People who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of developing serious eye diseases; four major eye diseases that can cause blindness:

  • Macular Degeneration (AMD)
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic Retinopathy

How Does Obesity Contribute to Eye Disease?

A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 is considered overweight, and above 30 is regarded as obese. A high BMI is tied to several chronic systemic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, among others. Research indicates that a number of eye diseases can now be added to that list.

Serious eye conditions such as Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma, and Macular Degeneration are more common in individuals with obesity, as well as floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, thyroid-related eye diseases, and stroke-related vision loss.

The connection between obesity and these eye diseases is likely due to the increased risk of peripheral artery disease. This occurs when the tiny blood vessels bringing oxygen to parts of your body like the feet, kidneys, and eyes become compromised.

Your eyes are particularly prone to damage from obesity because the blood vessels in the eyes (called arterioles) are easily blocked, since they’re extremely thin and small — as thin as ½ the width of a human hair!

Most people are not aware that obesity may increase the rate of developing cataracts, too. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens within the eye. In addition to age, cataracts develop with obesity, poor nutrition, gout, diabetes and high blood sugar levels.

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Reduce Your Risk of Ocular Disease

Knowing about the risk of vision loss may give those with a high BMI the extra motivational boost they need to lose weight. The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can reduce the associated risks.

An active lifestyle and a balanced, nutritious diet lower obesity and improve overall physical and eye health. Give your body a boost by incorporating important nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega 3, zinc, and lutein, many of which are found in green leafy and dark orange vegetables, as they have been shown to reduce the onset, progression, and severity of certain eye diseases.

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge NJ, Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy

While a healthy diet and regular exercise greatly increase your chances of living a disease-free long life, they alone are not enough to ensure long term healthy eyesight. Regular eye exams in our office can help prevent or detect the onset of ocular disease, and maintain vision that is clear and comfortable.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health, please call us at family eye Care in Old Bridge, NJ . We are here for you.