Discussing a patient’s body weight during an eye exam may once have been considered a strange or unnecessary question. These patients might wonder, “What does my weight have to do with my eyes?” However, it’s a subject that many eyecare practitioners are now addressing. As obesity rates continue to rise, researchers are noticing more instances of eye disease and vision loss in overweight and obese patients.
The connection between obesity and vision loss lies within the many health issues associated with carrying extra weight, according to Kimberly Reed, OD, FAAO. Systemic conditions such as Type II diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia and carotid artery disease, Dr. Reed writes, can “pose [an] additional threat to the ocular and visual system in the form of diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, vascular occlusive disease, optic neuropathy, glaucoma, and others.”
With this information at hand, it’s important to start discussions with patients on how maintaining a healthy weight can benefit their eyes. Take the time to, in a non-judgmental manner, talk about how achieving a healthier weight, as well as a healthier diet and regular exercise, can lead to a longer life and better overall health, as well as better ocular and visual health.
Of course, you should also discuss the various ocular issues that are linked to obesity and diabetes, and how routine comprehensive eye exams can help detect any problems early and before damage is irreversible. These exams should include Ultra-widefield retinal imaging, as the expanded view of the retina can often detect pathology before a patient experiences more obvious symptoms.
Obesity and diabetes can have a profound effect on the overall health of a patient, as well as their eyes. how one of our devices can benefit your practice and patients.