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Home » What's New » Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

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Nation-wide awareness about the vast 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!” campaign shining a spotlight on the importance of fitness and good nutrition. However, despite the public’s knowledge of obesity’s effects on hypertension, stroke, and diabetes, many are not aware of how it damages eye health and vision.

Increasing evidence shows that people who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of developing serious eye diseases. It is widely known that expanding waistlines place people at a higher risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, and cancer — but researchers say the link between obesity and deteriorating vision is the "risk factor that no one talks about". Professor Michael Belkin and Dr. Zohar Habot-Wilner, from the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center, found a consistently strong correlation between obesity and the development of four major eye diseases that may cause blindness: 

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy

The researchers said that although the evidence was out there suggesting a link between obesity and these conditions, their study emphasizes the optometric risks of obesity which can help motivate people to shed those extra pounds.

How Obesity Contributes 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. Recent research indicates that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to that list. 

Serious eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related 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 result when the focusing lens in the eye becomes cloudy and requires surgery to be replaced. In addition to age, cataract development is associated with obesity, poor nutrition, gout, diabetes and high blood sugar levels, though the exact cause isn’t clear.

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 Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy in Willowbrook

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 with Joshua Lange, O.D. 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, don’t hesitate to call Vision Source Willowbrook — we’re here for you. 

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In the interest of public health and safety, our offices are currently limiting patient access to basic red-eye care with on-call doctors, scheduled follow-up visits, and prescription pickup only.

No general office hours are available until further notice, and office admittance is strictly prohibited without an appointment.

If this is an emergency, please visit your nearest hospital emergency room immediately.

Until we are able to resume normal operations, we are happy to answer questions, schedule a red-eye appointment with an on-call doctor, and place orders for additional contact lenses (with free home shipping).

Please call an office number or email vscallcenter@vs-2020.com for assistance.

Rest assured that we are still here for you, and will resume normal operations as soon as it becomes safe and permissible to do so.

Your health is our top priority.

Thank you for your understanding and please stay healthy and safe during these difficult times.

*Your Vision Source Team*

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In the interest of public health and safety, our offices are currently limiting patient access to basic red-eye care with on-call doctors, scheduled follow-up visits, and prescription pickup only.

No general office hours are available until further notice, and office admittance is strictly prohibited without an appointment.

If this is an emergency, please visit your nearest hospital emergency room immediately.

Until we are able to resume normal operations, we are happy to answer questions, schedule a red-eye appointment with an on-call doctor, and place orders for additional contact lenses (with free home shipping).

Please call an office number or email vscallcenter@vs-2020.com for assistance.

Rest assured that we are still here for you, and will resume normal operations as soon as it becomes safe and permissible to do so.

Your health is our top priority.

Thank you for your understanding and please stay healthy and safe during these difficult times.

*Your Vision Source Team*