Mr Venki Sundaram
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
MD FRCOphth MRCOphth BMBCh BSc Harpenden / Cobham Clinic: 01582 714451 Bushey: 0208 901 5561

Does Obesity Affect Eyesight?


It’s well known that obesity is linked with a number of serious health conditions, such as;

  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Gout
  • Respiratory problems
  • Heart disease

However, many are unaware of how it can affect eye health and vision.

In this article we’ll explore how excess body weight can cause problems with eye health, and what can be done to minimise the risk.

How obesity affects eyesight, health and vision

Your eyes are part of the whole system that is your body, relying on a steady supply of oxygen-rich blood to stay healthy. So it’s no surprise that vascular (blood circulation) issues such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and diabetes, can have a direct impact on eye health and vision.

Obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, increases the risk of all of these conditions. It can cause fatty deposits to build up in your arteries, making the heart work harder to pump blood around the body, and it can make it harder for the body to keep blood sugar levels under control.

Studies have found a correlation between obesity and the following eye conditions:

While being obese doesn’t automatically mean you will be affected by these conditions, it may make them more likely.

Preventing obesity to protect eye health

We’ve seen the link between obesity and cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and AMD. One way to prevent eye problems and keep your whole body healthy is to have a good diet and maintain a healthy weight. Here are some healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the likelihood of obesity and reduce the risk of eye problems:

  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. Try not to eat too much salt, which can raise your blood pressure. 
  • Move more: aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week (you could split it into 30 minutes, 5 times a week)
  • Avoid fad diets where you lose a lot of weight quickly – it’s much easier to maintain a healthy weight in the long term if you make smaller, more sustainable changes.

Even if you have already been diagnosed with a condition like cataracts or AMD, these small steps are still worth taking. Healthy lifestyle changes like this can help to minimise further deterioration.

Symptoms and treatment

As with any health condition, early intervention can stop your symptoms from developing further. It’s important to have an eye test once a year and to seek medical advice if you experience any of the following:

  • A notable change in the quality of your vision (e.g. blurred or double vision)
  • Eye pain
  • Inflammation or irritation
  • Sensitivity to light

If you are diagnosed with an eye condition such as cataracts, treatment (such as surgery) may be required. Your specialist will advise you and will explain what your treatment will involve.

Contact us 

To make an appointment with Mr Venki Sundaram, please contact us for a consultation at the Cobhan Clinic in Luton, Spire Harpenden Hospital or Spire Bushey Hospital.