Obe­sity putting the young in dan­ger of go­ing blind

The Herald - - NEWS - HE­LEN MCAR­DLE

OBE­SITY is putting young Scots at risk of go­ing blind, re­searchers have said.

The cri­sis has been blamed for un­usu­ally high rates of a blood pres­sure con­di­tion which typ­i­cally af­fects over­weight young women.

Re­searchers found that lev­els of Idio­pathic In­tracra­nial Hy­per­ten­sion (IIH) in Fife were two to six times higher than would be ex­pected, com­pared with sim­i­lar de­vel­oped nations.

Headaches are the most com­mon symp­tom of the con­di­tion and are caused by high pres­sure within the brain which can dam­age the op­tic nerves. In around 10-15 per cent of pa­tients, IIH leads to ir­re­versible sight loss.

Sci­en­tists from the Univer­sity of St An­drews col­lected data on all pa­tients who were newly di­ag­nosed with IIH within the oph­thal­mol­ogy depart­ment in NHS Fife over a 12-month pe­riod, from Au­gust 2013 to July 2014.

A to­tal of 13 pa­tients were di­ag­nosed with the con­di­tion, trans­lat­ing to an in­ci­dence of 3.56 cases per 100,000 peo­ple in Fife.

Pre­vi­ous es­ti­mates of the an­nual in­ci­dence of IIH world­wide vary from 0.03 to 2.2 per 100,000.

All pa­tients in the Fife study ex­cept one were fe­male, and all were over­weight. The av­er­age body mass in­dex was 36 – clin­i­cally obese. Headache was the most com­mon pre­sent­ing symp­tom among the pa­tients, but one pa­tient also com­plained of vis­ual symp­toms. Three pa­tients pre­sented with no symp­toms but were found to have swollen op­tic discs dur­ing a rou­tine sight test.

Dr Colin Goudie, an oph­thal­mol­ogy regis­trar at the Princess Alexan­dra Eye Pavil­ion in Ed­in­burgh, 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 – mea­sured as a BMI in ex­cess of 25 – with with 29% be­ing clin­i­cally obese.

Of the pa­tients in the Fife study, more than three-quar­ters were clin­i­cally obese and all the rest were over­weight.

„ Obe­sity can cause a va­ri­ety of health problems in the young.

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