A new study has shown that ideal cardiovascular health which is typically indicative of a healthy lifestyle, was link with decreased odds of a person developing ocular diseases and especially diabetic retinopathy. The findings suggest that interventions to prevent cardiovascular diseases may also show promise in preventing diseases of the eye.
About 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from ocular diseases which can lead to vision impairment and blindness. About one half of these cases could have been prevented. The leading causes of blindness or vision impairment are age related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
Previous studies have founds associations between eye diseases and individual lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, or hypertension. It is well known that these particular metrics of ideal cardiovascular health do not work alone and may interact additively to result in diseases. Prior to the recent research, no other research has comprehensively evaluated the association of all of the metrics of ideal cardiovascular health with ocular diseases.
Most diseases of the eye show few symptoms at early stages, and a lot of people may not seek medical care despite the fact that there are readily available treatments. A recent online nationwide survey that consisted of all ethnic and racial groups in the U. S., showed that 88% of the 2,044 participants considered good vision to be very important to overall health. 47% of these participants rated losing their vision as the worst disease that could ever affect them. Surprisingly, 25% did not have any knowledge in regards to ocular diseases and their risk factors.
The study shows that following healthy lifestyle and behavioral habits can all contribute to good cardiovascular health as assessed by following 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 factors which are not smoking, healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining normal weight, controlling blood pressure, controlling cholesterol and controlling blood glucose levels.
Practicing these LS7 healthy lifestyles together was found to be associated with decreased odds for age related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. People with optimal cardiovascular health had 97% lower odds for diabetic retinopathy when compared to people with inadequate cardiovascular health.
Researchers evaluated data from 6,118 adults aged 40 or older who took part in the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The average age was 57 and 53% of whom were female. A one unit increase in LS7 scores was associated with reduced odds of age related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Overall it is believed that the primary prevention and early detection of eye diseases are important when considering that over half of all deaths from ocular diseases and cardiovascular diseases are known to be preventable.
Considering the significant overlap of the risk factors of ocular and cardiovascular diseases, the research team recommends that screening for ocular diseases be incorporated into existing population based and clinical screenings for cardiovascular diseases. The hope is that the studies findings will encourage people to adhere to healthy lifestyle choices in order to prevent these age related disease while at the same time leading to increased collaborations between optometrists, ophthalmologists and cardiologists in order to better prevent cardiovascular and ocular diseases.
To view the original scientific study click below