Lifestyle Diseases and Eye Problems: Need to Knows About Diabetic Eye Disease and Hypertensive Retinopathy
Lifestyle is a major factor thought to influence susceptibility to many diseases including the eye. Lifestyle disease or disorder can be a result of the consequence of one’s health choices. Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption, smoking, fat and sugar rich diet, lack of physical activity, poor sleep patterns and chronic eye strain are associated with the risk of developing eye diseases.
Gary Rodney, Master of Optometry and Fellow of the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (FIAOMC) based at the Smart Vision Optometry Eyes InDesign Mosman clinic, advices the significance about diabetic eye disease and Hypertensive Retinopathy.
Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is an eye disease caused by the onset of diabetes. It is caused when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels of the retina.
“You may have diabetic retinopathy, and not even know it,” says Rodney. In the early stage of DR, no symptoms are shown. As this condition advances, one may “experience blurred vision, black or dark spots in the vision, and colours may appear faded,” says Rodney.
Another contributing factor to DR is smoking. Smoking is believed to increase tissue hypoxia (lack of oxygen in cells and body), a factor involved in developing diabetic retinopathy.
DR can be personally treated, such as bringing blood sugar and blood pressure levels under control. Stop smoking and maintain a healthy lifestyle to improve overall health and prevent unnecessary vision loss.
Maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle and the richness of vitamins in meals are crucial to one’s health, and eye health. “Vitamin A plays an important role in keeping the retina and night vision in working condition,” says Rodney. “Vitamin E helps protect the eye from age-related macular degeneration (AMD),” says Rodney, and “vitamin C can help to fend off cataracts”.
High and untreated blood pressure (hypertension) can affect one’s vision and lead to eye disease. Hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina. This eye disease is known as Hypertensive Retinopathy.
Hypertensive Retinopathy (HR) is strongly associated with diabetes, and is related to blood pressure status. “High blood pressure causes blockage of the retinal arteries (blood vessels) that supply blood and oxygen to the eye,” says Rodney.
Retinal haemorrhages are commonly seen when there is a breakdown of blood-retinal barriers. “HR occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is too high, causing damage to the artery.” says Rodney.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for many ocular conditions, such as glaucoma and age-related maculopathy (AMD). This condition can lead to double or dim vision, loss of vision and headaches.
Mild hypertensive retinopathy comes about due to “elevated blood pressure, and risks other chronic effects such as cardiovascular disease (CVD)”, says Rodney. When diabetes is associated with hypertension, cardiovascular risk rises, and retinopathy becomes more severe and rapidly progresses.
Moderate grade of hypertensive retinopathy, reflects higher in people with diabetes. Diabetes and hypertension are both vascular risk factors, and the prevalence of diabetes among patients with hypertension is high.
Symptoms of mild to moderate hypertensive retinopathy are not always experienced, but can be discovered upon regular eye examinations.
Treatment for Hypertensive Retinopathy includes “controlling high blood pressure through lifestyle changes,” says Rodney. The control of blood pressure in hypertensive diabetic people prevents cardiovascular risks as well as the deterioration of retinopathy and visual acuity.
Smart Vision Optometry clinics are located in Sydney, Australia. Book a Smart Vision Comprehensive Vision Skills Assessment or Advanced Eye Health Test for any child or adult by calling the Mosman clinic (02) 9969 1600 or the Bondi clinic (02) 9365 5047, alternatively book an appointment online.