Healthy Heart, Healthy Eyes

6 NOV 2020

Eye health

Most of us understand that the best way to look after our heart is to reduce cholesterol, eat a balanced healthy diet, do regular physical activity, get a good night’s sleep, and avoid smoking and drinking.

We know that if we do these things over weeks, months, and years, we will reap the rewards and reduce the risk of having a heart attack and developing heart disease.

What you may not know is that by having a healthy heart you are also reducing the risk of eye disease.

It is true: the eyes really are the windows to the heart.

The Heart and Eye Study

A recently published study states that if we look after our heart, by leading a healthy lifestyle, we are much less likely to develop eye diseases, particularly diabetic retinopathy.

There is an “association between eye diseases and individual lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, or hypertension,” explained lead investigator Duke Appiah, PhD, Texas Tech University, USA.

“It is known that these metrics of ideal cardiovascular health do not work alone and may interact additively to result in diseases. However, prior to our research, no other studies have comprehensively evaluated the association of all the metrics of ideal cardiovascular health with ocular diseases.”

At least one billion around the world suffer from moderate to severe eye diseases as a result of refractive error, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, trachoma and near vision impairment caused by unaddressed presbyopia. Eye problems that could be prevented or treated.

The study highlighted that “primary prevention and early detection approaches of ocular diseases are important, considering that over half of all deaths from ocular diseases and cardiovascular diseases are known to be preventable,” commented co-investigators Noah De La Cruz, MPH, and Obadiah Shabaneh, MPH, Department of Public Health, Texas Tech University, USA.

A Healthy Heart Equals Less Eye Problems

People with the best possible heart health have a 97 per cent lower chance of getting diabetic retinopathy compared with those with poor cardiovascular health. Healthy lifestyle practices also reduced the risk of getting age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.

It can be difficult to know whether you have any form of eye disease as many symptoms do not show up in the early stages. As a result, people may not seek treatment even though options are available.

It is important that patients have regular eye checks to screen for eye diseases. Because there is a substantial connection between eye health and cardiovascular diseases, it is important to incorporate eye health appointments with your optometrist in with all other clinical appointments, especially those relating to screenings for any form of heart disease.

Hopefully, the results of this study will encourage people to adhere to healthier lifestyles and behavioural habits to help reduce the impact of age-related heart and eye diseases.

Book a regular appointment with your local Eyecare Plus Optometrists so they can detect and treat preventable eye diseases.

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