May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. We encourage you to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle not only this month but all year long. Obesity is an increasing public health problem. Did you know that obesity can have an impact on your eyesight? Obesity predisposes people to certain systemic diseases that can cause vision loss. The most common are cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
While visual impairment is often linked to aging, there has been an increase in visual impairment in the 20-39 age range. We see this increase in younger individuals as children and teens become overweight and live inactive lifestyles.
The following are the most common eye diseases affected by obesity:
Glaucoma – progressive damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss
Macular Degeneration – loss of central vision due to changes or damage to the macula (a small portion of the retina in the back of the eye).
Diabetic Retinopathy – damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. These blood vessels can leak blood and other fluid causing swelling and blurry vision. (See our past Blog Post –November is National Diabetes Month)
Cataracts – a cloudy or opaque area in the normally clear lens of the eye. This cloudiness can effect normal vision.
The good news is we can try to prevent obesity. Eat properly, get regular exercise, quit smoking, and have annual eye exams are all things you can do to prevent obesity and decrease your chances of developing vision loss.
Sources: American Optometric Association - www.aoa.org Szabo, Liz. "Obesity, diabetes are robbing people of sight."USA Today. N.p., 11 Dec 2012. Web. 29 May 2013. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2012/12/10/diabetes-obesity-vision-loss/1759777/>.