Obesity rates around the world have nearly tripled in the last few decades. With this condition affecting almost 15% of adults¹, the negative effect obesity has on overall wellness has been well researched and documented. Besides increasing the risk of pre-diabetes, Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and hypercholesterolemia. However, many people don’t realize that obesity can also adversely impact eye health and vision.
What is obesity?
Anyone whose weight is higher than what is typically deemed healthy for their height is considered to be overweight or obese. However, since everybody is different, doctors will usually calculate a person’s BMI (body mass index) to determine if they are at a healthy weight for their height, age and activity level.
Overweight is usually defined as a BMI of 25 to 30, whereas obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or above. If you’re unsure whether your weight falls in the obese range, speak with your doctor or check validated obesity charts: example Body Mass Index Table 1 (nih.gov).
What eye diseases can obesity cause?
Obesity can lead to significant ocular disorders that may impair a person’s vision.
- One of the major eye issues that can be brought on by obesity is diabetic retinopathy, one of the leading causes of blindness in middle-aged adults. The excess levels of blood sugar seen in diabetic patients can lead to diabetic retinopathy, which involves changes to retinal blood vessels that can cause them to bleed or leak fluid, distorting vision.
- Diabetic retinopathy often goes unnoticed until vision loss occurs; therefore, people with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam regularly. Discuss the recommended frequency with your diabetes healthcare team and experienced vision care professionals (optometrists or ophthalmologists).
- Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of incident blindness (legal) in people of working age. The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group determined the crude prevalence rate of retinopathy in the adult population with diabetes to be 40.3%. Higher prevalence rates have been noted in Indigenous populations in Canada2.
Among the list of other eye problems that have been linked to obesity are age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusions, stroke-related vision loss, thyroid-related eye diseases, among many other disorders.
What can I do to prevent these eye issues?
The good news is, obesity-related eye issues can usually be managed by maintaining a healthy weight. Keeping your weight at the appropriate range and protecting the health of your eyes by living an active lifestyle and eating a well-balanced diet.
If maintaining your weight is a struggle for you, consider working with a nutritionist or health coach to help you reach your weight goals. They can teach you how to prepare wholesome, nourishing meals and adjust your lifestyle which can aid in weight management and improve your overall health.
To support your healthy habits, you could also attending health classes in person or participate virtually. Studies show that finding an exercise partner or enrolling in a group fitness class with like-minded individuals can help you stay committed to your lifestyle changes.
In addition to minding your weight and nutrition, it is critical to get regular eye exams to ensure your eyes are healthy, and assure that any problems are caught before they progress. Your eye doctor is trained to identify warning signs of eye disease and provide treatments or refer you to help keep your eyes functioning at their best.
Help manage eye discomfort with Evolve Dry Eye Relief Drops
In addition to weight and lifestyle, statistics show that a large percentage of Canadians experience dry eye discomfort. Whether you spend a good part of your day using a computer screen, tablet, mobile phone or have concentrated reading, or live in controlled indoor climates, in dry or windy environments, suffer from allergies, take oral medications, use certain make-up, face cleansers, apply false eyelashes or other cosmetics, or have other health conditions or had previous eye surgery, you may experience the sore, irritated, burning, or gritty eye sensations caused by dry eyes. This discomfort can be distracting, annoying or debilitating and can lead to changes in your clarity of vision. You may not even realize that you have dry eyes, as sometimes people are insensitive to those symptoms. However, your eye doctor can often see the effects of dry eyes, and advise you of this condition.
If you have dry eyes, we recommend EVOLVE TM preservative-free and phosphate-free dry eye drops. These lubricating and protecting drops are gentle on the eyes and provide easy, safe and convenient relief for your symptoms of dry eye, and offer a triple action gel-drop formula for longer-lasting comfort.
Available as EVOLVE Daily Intensive Eye Drops and our EVOLVE Intensive Gel Drops, our EVOLVETM Dry Eye Relief formulas are designed to provide trusted relief and long-term protection, with an easy-squeeze bottle and micro sized drops. EVOLVE formulas are only available from your eye care doctor or professional offices and their on-line webstore. Find out where you can purchase EVOLVE using our Clinic Locator to find your nearest EVOLVETM provider.
- Obesity and overweight. (2021, June 9). Retrieved September 15, 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
- Kaur H, Maberley D, Chang A, et al. The current status of diabetes care, diabetic retinopathy screening and eye-care in British Columbia’s First Nations Communities. Int J Circumpolar Health 2004;63:277–85.
- Retinopathy - Diabetes Canada Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee Filiberto Altomare MD, FRCSC, Amin Kherani MD, FRCSC, Julie Lovshin MD, FRCPC