Overweight? Poor Eyesight? Coincidence?

Most people know the effects of obesity in terms of cancer, diabetes and hypertension but what they do not know is that it can cause blindness.  You can chalk this up as another reason to maintain a healthy lifestyle that incorporates eating properly and exercise.  Did you ever think that obesity could have an impact on your eyesight?  I for one never did, but then again I have worn glasses or contacts my entire life so I don’t know any differently.

childhood_obesity_adult_diseaseWhat I do know is that it is not fun when you can’t see.  Every morning when I get up the first thing I do is put my contacts in.  Then after a full day of staring at the screen of a laptop I cannot wait to take those contacts out, but only to have to put glasses on.  This is my life and I don’t feel sorry for myself for this is the body I was given and I will do everything I can to enjoy it, but if you don’t have poor eyesight why would you jeopardize what you have?

I think that eyesight is the most important of the five senses that we have.  Everything we do involves sight.  You see a pair of sneakers and want to wear them long before you touch them to pick them up.  Or the old adage we eat with our eyes first?  Its true that if the food doesn’t look appealing there is less of a chance that we will eat it regardless of how good it tastes.  For me, everything starts with sight and so if you have control over that why risk it?

Knowing that obesity can affect your sight is not enough though, so I am going to give you the diseases that are affected by obesity that have an impact on your eyesight.

  • Glaucoma – a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and blindness.
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a disease which causes the sharp, central vision to blur, making some activities such as reading difficult. AMD affects the macula – the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail.
  • Cataracts – a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision.
  • Diabetic retinopathy – a complication of diabetes which is a leading cause of blindness. The condition occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina – the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

Two Israeli ophthalmologists (Professor Michael Belkin and Dr Zohar Habot-Wilner, from the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Centre) conducted this research about 6 years ago and warned that the prospect of eye disease should also be a powerful incentive to lose weight.  They reviewed more than 20 studies involving thousands of patients worldwide.

They could not define a link between cataracts and obesity but were able to clearly define why Glaucoma, AMD and Diabetic retinopathy were affected by being overweight.  These diseases all affect the vascular system and excess weight is known to create pulmonary problems, the blood vessels in the eye are affected and sight deteriorates.

So if diabetes, hypertension and cancer aren’t enough to convince you that carrying around that extra weight is not a good idea, think about a life in which you cannot see.  A life in which only 4 of your senses work and how much you  will be missing.  If you have kids wouldn’t you want to see them grow up?  How about walk across the stage at high school or college graduation?  Maybe your daughter or son is getting married and the opportunity to watch them go down the aisle can convince you that eating healthy and exercise will help you be there at those life changing moments.

Do something today to make a difference in your life or the life of somebody else.  Walk for 30 minutes.  Replace that sugary soft drink with a glass of water.  Enjoy carrots and celery with a serving size of hummus instead of that chocolate bar.  The future you will thank you.

Can’t do any of those things but still want to help?  Donate to Shape Up America! and raise the education level on how obesity affects us in America.




Source:  Daily Mail


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  1. lindsay says:

    this isn’t really related… but have you thought about lasik? my doc keeps telling me i’d be a good candidate… i have -6.5 contacts :) ohh yeah, coke bottle eye glasses.
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    • CTER says:

      I have thought about it but the idea of having lasers in my eyes scares me. I have been told that I am a perfect candidate too because I have an astigmatism. Only one eye would see a big improvement but again a laser in my eye is scary.

    • Kristin says:

      Ok so Lindsay. With your prescription you are really on the far side of the spectrum for most lasik candidates. It really depends on the thickness of your cornea. If it is thick enough some doctors might some might not. Your expectations also dictate the go or no go. But ultimately the determining factor is the corneal thickness.

      Oh And Jason the laser actually doesn’t go in your eye for lasik. It’s wavelength determines where it hits and it stops in the cornea. However no surgery comes without risks!!

  2. I work for a kidney dialysis company and the main causes of kidney failure are diabetes and heart disease so I always think about that. It’s so scary, huh?
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    • CTER says:

      It terrifies me that society just doesn’t seem to be paying attention to this issue.

      The reports that 50% of the population will be obese in 2030 should be enough to scare people but I have read comments about this study and they are astonishing. Comments along the lines of: it goes in cycles so you can’t predict these levels. If you watch people eating you don’t need a study to know that we are clearly on that path.

  3. Kristin says:

    I’d love to see the study you are referring to. As a biologist (my major) I do believe weight to play some roll in things we do. However as an Optometrist I don’t see the “ARMD” trend as much as this paper suggests. In most books it does suggest talking about diet and ideal weight however most of that can be associated with what we consume as people. The lack of certain nutrients crucial for ocular health in the American diet is for real, so yes I think if you string out our crappy diet that CAN lead to obesity but HAPPENS to also be a risk factor for developing ARMD you can tie the two things together. Surprisingly in my office I can’t recall the last overweight patient with macular degeneration. And what about it’s majorly a Caucasian disease. There are certainly just as many overweight A-A as there are Caucasians. Just a thought.

    Glaucoma there are so many factors that go into that I think the specialists get confused. Diabetes increases your risk, HTN increases your risk, family history super increases your risk. TO pin point it down to one issue isn’t true. It’s scary but just because someone is over weight does doom them.

    As far as cataracts are concerned with obese people I’d have to wonder what type of cataracts we are referring to. Yes there is a type of cataract we see develop sooner in folks with diabetes, and most people with diabetes are overweight. You have equal risk of cataracts by NOT WEARING SUNGLASSES WHEN YOU ARE A TODDLER TO PRE-TEEN. That is when the damage is done. We all will have cataract surgery if we live long enough.

    Diabetic Retinopathy- Well that in itself is a gimmy. It’s the leading cause of blindness in the United States.

    I do think keeping a healthy diet and maintaining proper weight is important for longevity and over all health. I certainly think something needs to be done in the US. You can decrease your risk of a lot of health issues for sure by doing what you are saying. I’m just saying there are still so many variables out there that is why research still goes on!!!

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