Research update

Ideal cardiovascular health associated with a healthy lifestyle is linked with better eye health, according to research from Texas Tech University, USA.

Globally, around 2.2 billion people suffer from ocular diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma, which lead to vision impairment or blindness. However, according to the authors, approximately half of these cases could be prevented. While previous research has linked lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity and hypertension with eye diseases, this new research suggesting that a healthy lifestyle that contributes to cardiovascular health also has benefits for eyesight.

For the study, a healthy lifestyle was measured according to the American Heart Association's prescription for health metric, known as Life's Simple Seven (LS7). LS7 is based on the status of seven cardiovascular disease risk factors: not smoking, regular physical activity, healthy diet, maintaining normal weight, and controlling cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

All seven together lowered the odds of optical disease. In particular, individuals with optimal cardiovascular health had 97% lower odds for diabetic retinopathy (a complication from diabetes in which there is damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) compared to individuals with inadequate cardiovascular health.

Co-authors Noah De La Cruz and Obadeh Shabaneh, from the Department of Public Health, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, said: "Overall, we believe that primary prevention and early detection approaches of ocular diseases are important, considering that over half of all deaths from ocular diseases and cardiovascular diseases are known to be preventable.

"We hope that our study findings will encourage adherence to healthy lifestyles in order to prevent these age-related diseases while also leading to increased collaborations between cardiologists, optometrists, and ophthalmologists in order to better prevent cardiovascular and ocular diseases.”