Blog post by: Eye Physicians of Long Beach

In a recent article published in an Ophthalmology journal, titled Metabolic Syndrome and Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration, states that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the macula as we age. The macula is the tissue that lines the back of the eye. It is part of the retina and is sensitive to light, making it a vital component of vision. Aging causes this breakdown of delicate tissue, but can our weight exacerbate the problem?

Obesity is a growing problem in our society. Recent studies by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that over 35% of American adults are obese according to BMI measurements, while a staggering 69% are overweight or obese. When a minority of Americans are a healthy weight, we must consider the effects that this extra weight is having on other health issues.

Recent studies have demonstrated that obesity may increase a patient’s problems with AMD. The problem is more specific than obesity itself. Metabolic syndrome is the true culprit.

While not categorized as a disease, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that occur in conjunction with obesity. These include excess abdominal fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. This particular collection of health risks double a person’s chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke due to heart disease. Those suffering from metabolic syndrome are an astonishing five times more likely to develop type-2 diabetes. It now also appears that they are run a greater risk of accelerated AMD.

A consistent correlation between those suffering from metabolic syndrome and advanced AMD has been found, meaning that vision loss is one more health problem that can be, at least partially, attributed to obesity. Metabolic syndrome is identified by increased HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high glucose levels. Any of these factors can accelerate problems with AMD.

To reduce your risk of AMD, try to live a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces a mountain of health risks, which may include AMD. You can also take steps to protect your vision by wearing sunglasses, not smoking, and taking nutrient supplements.