Obe­sity cri­sis risk­ing eye­sight of young adults – Fife study

Re­search by aca­demics shows high BMI can lead to eye con­di­tion

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - The in­ci­dence in Fife of IIH, which can dam­age eye­sight, was sig­nif­i­cantly higher than pre­vi­ous es­ti­mates, a new study has shown. CRAIG SMITH [email protected]­courier.co.uk See com­ment on page 30

Scot­land’s obe­sity epi­demic could be dam­ag­ing the eye­sight of young adults, ac­cord­ing to new re­search by NHS Fife and St An­drews Univer­sity.

The pa­per, pub­lished in the Scot­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal, re­ported on all pa­tients pre­sent­ing to NHS Fife over a 12-month pe­riod with a con­di­tion called Idio­pathic In­tracra­nial Hy­per­ten­sion (IIH), which typ­i­cally af­fects young over­weight fe­males.

Headaches are the most com­mon symp­tom and are caused by high pres­sure within the brain which can dam­age the nerves of sight lead­ing to a small num­ber of pa­tients de­vel­op­ing ir­re­versible sight loss.

Dr An­drew Blaikie, se­nior lec­turer in the School of Medicine at St An­drews Univer­sity and con­sul­tant oph­thal­mol­o­gist with NHS Fife, over­saw the pro­ject.

He said: “Scot­land has one of the worst records for obe­sity in the de­vel­oped world and the preva­lence of obe­sity in Fife is higher than the Scot­tish av­er­age.

“We are in the midst of an obe­sity epi­demic and if this con­tin­ues we will see IIH be­com­ing more com­mon, in­creas­ing the risk of a small but sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of young peo­ple los­ing vi­sion.”

Dr Colin Goudie, oph­thal­mol­ogy regis­trar at the Princess Alexan­dra Eye Pavil­ion, who con­ducted the re­search, said: “The in­ci­dence of IIH in Fife was sig­nif­i­cantly higher than pre­vi­ous es­ti­mates and we be­lieve this is due to the high lev­els of obe­sity in the re­gion.

“We found that the in­ci­dence of IIH in Fife was be­tween two and six times higher than pre­vi­ously re­ported from other stud­ies per­formed in sim­i­larly de­vel­oped nations.”

In 2017, 65% of the adult pop­u­la­tion in Scot­land were recorded as be­ing over­weight with 29% be­ing clin­i­cally obese.

The ma­jor risk fac­tor for de­vel­op­ing IIH is be­ing over­weight and, in the Fife study, more than three-quar­ters were clin­i­cally obese, with all the rest be­ing over­weight.

No one of nor­mal health weight pre­sented with the con­di­tion, with all those af­fected be­ing fe­male ex­cept one.

Dr Blaikie added: “As be­ing over­weight is the cause of the dis­ease the pri­mary treat­ment is to lose weight and achieve a nor­mal BMI.

“This can be aug­mented with medicines and some­times surgery to pre­vent any long-term dam­age to sight and im­prove symp­toms of headache.

“How­ever, a group of pa­tients ex­ist who can still de­velop rapidly pro­gres­sive and per­ma­nent vi­sion loss de­spite prompt treat­ment.”

Scot­land has one of the worst records for obe­sity in the de­vel­oped world and the preva­lence of obe­sity in Fife is higher than the Scot­tish av­er­age. DR AN­DREW BLAIKIE

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