Obesity is characterised by an ex-cessive build-up of fat or adipose tissue in the body. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines obesity as a situation in which the body mass index (BMI: weight in kilograms by height in metres squared of an individual) is equal or more than 30 kg/m². A waist circumference of 102 cm or over in men and 88 cm or over in women is also considered to be a sign of obesity.

Risks to the health and the eyesight

Obesity is a risk factor in cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus (type 2), sleep apnoea, stroke and osteoarthritis as well as some types of cancer, dermatological conditions and gastrointestinal diseases.

Some of these obesity-associated conditions like diabetes and high-blood pressure may have an impact on the eyes causing vision-related problems. First, diabetic retinopathy is a frequent complication of diabetes mellitus and it appears when the retinal blood vessels deteriorate, causing a severe loss of vision and may even lead to blindness. High blood pressure may also result in hypertensive retinopathy, whereby a chronic increase in blood pressure may also cause damage to the retinal vessels and tissue surrounding them, which may affect the eye sight.

On many occasions excess weight goes hand in hand with poor dietary habits or eating unhealthy food, in such a way that the eye does not get the right amount of essential nutrients to function properly. Furthermore, all of the above may increase the risk of further eye conditions that pose a risk to the eyesight, like age-related degeneration (AMD), cataracts, increased intraocular pressure, glaucoma or dry eye.

A varied and balanced died

The best way of ensuring good eye health is to have a varied and balanced diet that includes fruit, vegetables and fish, combat being overweight, avoid smoking, do moderate physical exercise on a regular basis, protect yourself from UV light, and go for regular eye check-ups as this will enable us detect any eye conditions that may arise in good time and apply the most suitable treatment available to each case.

Dra. Mª José Capella