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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 Fredericksburg

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. Benny Peña 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 TSO Fredericksburg — we’re here for you. 

To our patients and community,

At the present time, TSO Fredericksburg is remaining open. We wanted to share with you the following precautions and safety measures we are taking to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our patients and staff. We regularly clean all of our equipment between every patient. We disinfect common surfaces, work stations, door handles, light switches, chairs, etc, on a daily basis. This is how we regularly do business. However, with the heightened guidelines surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, we want to assure you that we have escalated our disinfection efforts.

Furthermore, we will provide minimal wait times so there is very little contact with other patients in the waiting area.

If you are experiencing any flu symptoms at all and/or cough, fever, shortness of breath, we ask that you please stay home. We are more than happy to reschedule anyone that needs to!

In addition we are also offering “curbside” delivery, in which we deliver your glasses and/or contact lens orders directly to your vehicle if you prefer not to come in at this time.

Again, as each day is new, please know that we have our patients and staff in mind, and we want to do all that we can to take care of everyone. We will keep you updated of any changes that may occur in our practice. Thank you, as always for trusting us with all of your eye care needs!

Sincerely,

The Doctors of TSO Fredericksburg

Frame Service Agreement, New at TSO Fredericksburg

You can now purchase peace of mind with your new eyeglasses for only $29 at Texas State Optical Fredericksburg! Replace of your broken frames for a full year, no questions asked!

  • Available at the time of eyewear purchase
  • Agreement covers one-time no charge frame replacement due to damage or breakage, no questions asked
  • Subsequent replacements incur a $15 copay
  • Agreement covers frame for 12 months from date of glasses purchase
  • Fee for agreement $29

Please feel free to call with any questions about the program, or feel free to visit us for further details. Thanks again for choosing Texas State Optical Fredericksburg.

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