New research suggests that being overweight and having other health conditions linked to obesity, such as elevated blood pressure, can increase your risk of developing macular degeneration. Understanding how being overweight or obese contributes to this condition and what you can do about it is an important step toward protecting your eyesight now and in the future.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what macular degeneration is and the new study that has linked obesity and the risk of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a condition that affects the macula, a small area near the middle of the retina responsible for central vision. It gradually reduces the ability to read, drive or recognize faces. People who develop macular degeneration typically have significant visual loss by their 70s or 80s.
AMD can be divided into two main types: dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is caused when the macula becomes thin and stops functioning correctly due to cell death. In contrast, wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the macula and leak fluid or bleed. Treatment options vary depending on the type and severity of macular degeneration but may help slow down the progression of AMD.
The research from Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosement, in Montreal started because researchers wanted to know why some people with a genetic predisposition develop AMD while others do not. Previous studies have invested in understanding the variations and mutations in genes responsible for AMD. This only showed how they increased the risk of developing the disease, but not what causes it.
In people with AMD, the immune system in the eye can become dysregulated and aggressive. Normally immune cells keep the eye healthy, but pathogens such as viruses and bacteria can interfere.
Immune cells are also activated when the body is exposed to stressors such as excess fat in obesity. This makes being overweight the number one non-genetic risk factor for developing AMD after smoking.
This new study looked at obesity as a model to accelerate and exaggerate the stressors that are experienced by the body. Researchers found that a history of obesity or transient obesity can lead to persistent changes in the DNA architecture within the immune cells. This can make them more susceptible to producing inflammatory molecules.
“Our findings provide important information about the biology of the immune cells that cause AMD and will allow for the development of more tailored treatments in the future,” said study leader Dr. Masayuki Hata.
Early detection of macular degeneration is key in preventing vision loss, as most forms cannot be cured once deterioration has reached an advanced stage.
Researchers hope this discovery will lead to other studies beyond obesity-related diseases that are still characterized by increased inflammation in the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Preventing Eye Disease
As this research proves, it is vital to take steps to ensure the vision is kept as healthy as possible as you age. One of the primary causes of age-related vision loss is low levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. These natural pigments have been shown to protect the eye from oxidative damage caused by ultraviolet light and environmental factors.
20/20 Vision contains 20 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin to help give your eyes the nutritional support they require. In addition to those two ingredients, this unique formula also contains various vitamins, minerals, and herbal ingredients to help support and maximize vision, eye health, and general health.