A high BMI can be linked to chronic systemic health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, stroke, cardiovascular disease, etc. In recent years, there is increasing evidence that a high BMI is associated with ocular health disease.
Overweight and obese individuals are at an increased risk for diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Other conditions such as retinal vein occlusions, floppy eyelid syndrome, stroke causing visual loss, and thyroid-related eye diseases have also been linked to 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. Make sure to get a supply of nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, omega 3, lutein, and zeaxanthin, as these have been shown to decrease the progression and severity of eye diseases such as macular degeneration.
However, protect your vision by making smart decisions every day with these quick tips:
- Watching lots of movies? Sit at a distance equivalent to at least five times the width of your TV screen.
- Include eye healthy foods in your meal
- Get regular…with your eye exams! There is no better way to protect your vision than an eye exam, as many eye diseases have no easily detectable symptoms. Children have their first eye exam between ages six and nine months, and annually after that. Adults should have eye exams every two years.
- Butt out! Smoking contributes to a number of eye related health issues, Stop this.
- Take 20. Take a 20 second break from your computer screen every 20 minutes and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away.
- Protect your baby blues (or greens or browns). Wear proper protective eyewear when undertaking major indoor or outdoor work, and wear sunglasses outside even when the sun isn’t shining – UV rays are harmful to your eyes year-round.
- Have the conversation. If you have eye irritation from allergies, inflammation, infection or injury, don’t assume it will go away on its own. Unusual visual symptoms can require treatment to resolve, or, in some cases, indicate a more serious vision problem.