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Diabetic Retinopathy

What’s The Link Between Obesity And Eye Disease?

People who are obese are at higher risk of developing some sight-threatening eye conditions and diseases. Read on to discover why, and how we can help.

It is well documented that obesity impacts health in numerous ways, from a higher incidence of diabetes to cardiovascular disease. What many people don’t know is obesity’s negative effect on vision and eye health. Speak with our Eye care professionals at Ancaster Family Eyecare about any concerns you may have about your eye health or vision.

There is increasing evidence that obese individuals have a greater risk of developing serious, sight-threatening eye diseases.

Researchers at the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center found a consistent link between obesity and the development of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

The researchers noted that the public is largely unaware of this link, despite the evidence. If more people knew about the risk, they said, it might motivate them to try to shed some extra weight.

How Does Obesity Impact The Eyes?

A body mass index (BMI) of 25-30 is considered overweight and any BMI over 30 is considered obese. Recent studies indicate that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to the list of medical conditions associated with an elevated BMI.

Diabetic retinopathy, floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, stroke-related vision loss, and age-related macular degeneration are all risk factors of obesity.

While the cause is not yet certain, researchers believe this may be due to the peripheral artery disease prevalent among people who are obese. When the tiny blood vessels around the eyes are compromised, they may have trouble delivering oxygen and other nutrients to the eye area.

Obesity is also a risk factor for developing cataracts (the clouding of the eye’s natural lens). Poor nutrition or high blood sugar levels, which are commonly found in people with obesity, may contribute to the cloudiness.

Although obesity may contribute to cataract formation, losing weight may not significantly reduce the risk of developing them, partly because cataracts are also a common consequence of aging, whatever one’s weight.

Additionally, morbid obesity is associated with higher inner eye pressure, which may increase one’s risk of glaucoma and glaucomatous optic neuropathy — leading causes of vision loss and blindness. Morbid obesity is defined as having a BMI of 40 or above, or 35 and above with health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Stay Active, Healthy, and Have Regular Eye Exams

An active lifestyle and a nutritious diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve overall physical and eye health. Try to include several key nutrients into your diets, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega-3, zinc, and lutein, as they may help delay or prevent certain eye diseases.

While a balanced diet and regular exercise significantly increase your chance of living a healthy life, it’s also crucial to have regular eye exams. A comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Priya Maharaj can help detect the onset of ocular disease and ensure the earliest and most effective treatment to preserve your gift of sight.

Don’t hesitate to call Ancaster Family Eyecare in Ancaster with any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health — we’re here for you.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Ancaster eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Ancaster Family Eyecare eye clinic near you in Ancaster, Ontario to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 226-400-3360

Ancaster Family Eyecare, your Ancaster eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

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  • Is it possible to prevent Macular Degeneration?

    Doctors aren’t sure how to prevent macular degeneration. Research suggests that ultraviolet light (and possibly blue light) factors into the problem, so sunglasses could be very beneficial.

  • My doctor says I have a cataract, but he wants to wait a while before removing it. Why?

    A cataract usually starts very small and practically unnoticeable but grows gradually larger and cloudier. Your doctor is probably waiting until the cataract interferes significantly with your vision and your lifestyle. You need to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly so the cataract’s progress is monitored. Some cataracts never really reach the stage where they should be removed. If your cataract is interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or doing everyday tasks is difficult, then it’s time to discuss surgery with your doctor.

  • What exactly is glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor in it, either because it produced too much, or because it’s not draining properly. Other symptoms are optic nerve damage and vision loss. Glaucoma is a silent disease that robs the patient of their peripheral vision. Early detection is very important.

  • What is diabetic retinopathy?

    Doctors aren’t sure how to prevent macular degeneration. Research suggests that ultraviolet light (and possibly blue light) factors into the problem, so sunglasses could be very beneficial.

Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

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 Ancaster

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 Dr. Priya Maharaj 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 Ancaster Family Eyecare — we’re here for you. 

3 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision and Eyes

Did you know that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to get eye diseases than those without it? There are three major eye conditions that diabetics are at risk for developing: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. To prevent these sight-threatening diseases, it’s important to control your blood sugar level and have your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye doctor. 

But First, What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps our cells get energy from the sugars we eat. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce or respond to insulin effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood stream instead. Over time, diabetes can lead to potentially irreversible ocular damage and poor eyesight. However, by taking care of your blood sugar levels and your eyes, you can prevent vision loss.

Annual eye exams are recommended for everyone, but routine screenings are even more important for diabetics. Eye doctors may send diabetic eye health reports to a patient’s primary care physician or internist to adjust medication as needed to prevent complications.

What’s the Link Between Vision and Diabetes? 

Blurred vision or fluctuating eyesight clarity is often one of the first noticeable signs that diabetes has begun to affect your eyes. Sometimes, fluid leaking into the eye causes the lens to swell and change shape. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, resulting in fuzzy vision. Such symptoms can indicate that an eye disease is developing, or may simply be due to imbalanced blood sugar levels which can be rectified by getting your blood sugar back to healthy levels. 

If you start to notice blurry vision, make an appointment with Dr. Priya Maharaj as soon as possible.

The 3 Ways Diabetes Impacts Vision 

Cataracts

While cataracts are extremely common and a part of the natural aging process, those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier in life. Characterized by a clouding or fogging of the lens within the eye, cataracts impede light from entering the eye, causing blurred vision and glares. The best treatment is cataract surgery, which is very safe and effective. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by optic nerve damage. Since it tends to impact peripheral vision first, glaucoma often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. However, routine glaucoma screenings can detect warning signs; early treatment can prevent disease progression and vision loss. 

Although there is no true cure for glaucoma, most glaucoma patients successfully manage it with special eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or other surgery. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, the better the outcome.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels on your retina (capillaries) become weakened and then balloon (microaneurysm) due to poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The resulting poor blood circulation in the back of the eye causes more abnormal blood vessels to grow, which also bleed or leak fluid, and can lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment and even blindness, over time.

Often there are no symptoms until the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, where patients may begin to see spots and missing patches in their vision. Retinopathy can be treated through surgery and eye injections, but the best way to prevent this disease from progressing is to regularly have your eyes screened.

The good news is that diabetic eye disease can often be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and regular diabetic eye exams. Contact Ancaster Family Eyecare in Ancaster to set up your eye doctor’s appointment today.