Being overweight can trigger damaging immune cells to attack your eyes – study
Ophthalmology professor Przemysław (Mike) Sapieha said: “We wanted to know why some people with a genetic predisposition develop age-related macular degeneration while others persist.” Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Professor Sapieha from the University of Montreal, Canada, noted that in people with AMD, the immune system becomes unregulated and aggressive.
Normally, immune cells keep the eyes healthy, but being overweight has been shown to cause dysregulation.
This means that being overweight has become “the number one non-genetic risk factor for developing AMD after smoking.”
Dr. Masayuki Hata, co-author of the study, said: “Our results provide important information about the biology of the immune cells that cause AMD.
“[Our study] will enable the development of more specialized therapies in the future.”
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Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
The NHS says that “the first symptom is often a blurred or distorted area of your vision.”
Such a symptom may appear in one or both eyes, but as the condition worsens, you may struggle to see anything in the middle of your vision.
Additional signs of AMD may include:
- Perception of straight lines as wavy or curved
- Objects look smaller than usual
- Colors seem less vibrant than before
- Seeing things that are not there (hallucinations).
There are two forms of AMD: dry and wet age-related macular degeneration.
Dry AMD is more common and is caused by a buildup of a fatty substance called drusen at the back of the eye.
The condition gradually worsens over time and there is no treatment unless it turns into wet AMD.
Wet AMD, caused by an overgrowth of abnormal blood vessels at the back of the eye, can be treated with repeated injections into the eye.
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If you are diagnosed with dry AMD, you may need to make daily adjustments to live with the condition.
For example, you may need to make changes to your home with brighter lighting.
The NHS says AMD is “often associated with unhealthy lifestyles,” so it’s best – whether you already have it or not – to stick to healthier habits.
Healthier habits include eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.
You can reduce your risk of developing AMD by quitting smoking and losing weight if you are overweight.
Am I overweight?
The National Health Service offers a free body mass index (BMI) calculator that can tell you if you’re at a healthy weight.
To use the BMI calculator, you will need to enter your height and weight.
Dr. Hata’s research paper was published in the journal Science.
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