New research out of Australia shows that those who lose weight, especially if they’re obese, can cut the risk of developing age related macular degeneration disease (also known as AMD), the number one cause of severe vision loss among older people.
Long associated with getting older, this mostly silent disease gradually, without pain, destroys the sharp, central vision that is needed to see things clearly in order to read or drive a car.
Age related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over 60. There are two forms, wet and dry, with dry being more common.
Earlier work had delivered conflicting results on the link between obesity and age related macular degeneration. This prompted the team from Australia to examine yet again how changes in weight might impact the risk of developing the age related eye disorder.
The work appeared in the November 2008 issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.
Using 12,515 subjects between 45 and 64 who were followed for a total of six years, the study collected data on their waist hip ratio and abdominal obesity.
The team found that with a 3 percent or greater drop in the waist hip ratio, the odds of age related macular degeneration fell quite sharply compared to those with stable weight. A decrease in waist hip ratio of 3% or more was connected with 29% lower odds of any age related macular degeneration.
The reduction in AMD risk was greatest in those who were obese at the beginning of the study. Here the team saw that a decrease in the waist hip ratio was associated with 59% lower odds of age related macular degeneration.
This led to the conclusion that the weight reduction, especially in obese and overweight people would perhaps significantly reduce the risk of developing AMD.
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The disturbing link between weight loss and eyesight… continued
Experts understand that while the greatest risk factor for AMD is age, there are other things that also make it more likely to occur.
Those include smoking, being obese (other studies had found a link between obesity and progression of the early and middle stages of AMD), race (whites are more at risk than other races), and those with an immediate family member (mother, father, brother, sister) with AMD are also at higher risk, as are women.
And while we can’t change some of these risk factors, there are things that are within our control and can help reduce the risk. As the Australian study shows… losing weight does cut the risk.
Also key is eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes lots of green, leafy veggies, don’t smoke, exercise regularly and keep your blood pressure under control.
If you’re concerned about AMD, or have noticed changes (like blurring of vision) in your sight, visit your eye doctor at once. There are tests that can be done to diagnose what’s causing your problem, and the earlier you begin treating the cause, the better your chances of saving your sight.
Of course, further research is needed to solidify the link between obesity and age related macular degeneration, but this work is certainly a promising start.
If you know you have other risk factors for age related macular degeneration disease and you’re also obese, you might not want to wait for more research, and take steps reduce your weight, and your risk.