As the month of February — “Heart Health Month” — draws to a close, Cascadia Eye wants to help you achieve more awareness about heart disease and high blood pressure — especially as it relates to your vision!
For example, patients with high blood pressure are at risk for hypertensive retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion, and even glaucoma. (Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve – the part of the eye that carries images to the brain and is associated with elevated eye pressure.) And heart disease has also been linked with macular degeneration.
As we’ve talked about in other ways, your body and the health of your eyes are deeply connected. In fact, Dr. Nannette Crowell suggests you “think of the body as the stalk the eyes grow on.” Anything that affects your blood circulation will also make diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration worse.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss and legal blindness in Americans age 60 and older. When the light-sensitive macula of the eye breaks down, it gradually destroys a person’s central vision. Most often, the disease is associated with aging, but now studies show a high BMI (Body Mass Index, used to define healthy ratios between weight and height) increases the risk. In 2003, a study published in Archives of Ophthalmology found that adults with a BMI of 25-30 or more were more than twice as likely to be at risk for AMD progression as adults with a BMI below 25.
On that note, the relationship between heart disease (and high blood pressure) and your eye health is also frequently about linking risk factors. Two factors linked with eye diseases are body weight/BMI, and smoking, both of which are also risk factors for various kinds of heart disease. While this is a more indirect relationship, it is definitely something to consider — if you’re creating better habits for heart health, you’re also creating better eye health.
Contact Cascadia Eye
If you would like to learn more, or if you would like to schedule an appointment at Cascadia Eye, please contact us today. We are happy to answer any questions you might have!
In addition, join us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to ask your questions about eyes, exams, and our practice. We’d love to hear from you — and there might be a blog to address your questions in the future.
Who am I? Alex Brandt, Cascadia Eye’s official blogger. You can read more about me here!