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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 Joplin

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. David Coleman 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 Coleman Vision — we’re here for you. 

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To Our Patient Family,

Based on federal and state recommendations, many offices have voluntarily moved to a temporary model of care where they are reducing or eliminating routine vision care, particularly for at-risk populations, while still allowing urgent care for their patients.

After careful consideration we have made the decision to follow these recommendations until April 3rd, at which time we will re-evaluate.

So what does that mean?

To minimize the spread of COVID-19 our physical office will be temporarily closed to routine vision appointments.  We will have both Doctors and staff in the office Tuesday – Thursday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm to answer questions, place contact lens orders and schedule urgent/emergency patients by phone.

We are offering to extend contact lens prescriptions if necessary, to make sure our patients have enough supply until our quarantine lifts.

Both Dr. David and Dr. Jeff are still available for red eyes, sudden vision changes, injuries, and other urgent issues for both new and established patients.  Please feel free to call our office between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Tuesday – Thursday.

Our doctors will be providing Tele-health for your convenience and extended care.  We will also be offering extended services for our vision therapy patients.

If you have glasses ordered or glasses that are ready for pick up, we ask that you call ahead and schedule a time to pick those up. Once you have arrived, call the office for check-in, and we will deliver and adjust your glasses at your car.  Contacts and vitamins that are available for pickup will follow same check-in process.

As always, we genuinely care for our patients and want the very best for each of you.  If you need us, or have questions about your specific situations; please feel free to call the office.  This plan of action could change due to federal or state guidelines and recommendations.  Please monitor our Facebook page for updates.

We appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Prayerfully,

Dr. David Coleman & Dr. Jeff Coleman