The obesity epidemic risks the sight of young Scottish women – BBC News


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Scotland has one of the worst records for obesity in the developed world

According to new research, Scotland's obesity epidemic could harm the sight of young adults.

The NHS Fife and St Andrews University doctors examined patients with a condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH).

The condition that can damage the nerves of the eye is caused by being overweight.

It affects mainly overweight young women and can lead to irreversible loss of vision.

The researchers whose study was published in the Scottish Medical Journal, studied all patients who presented at NHS Fife for a 12-month period with IIH.

Obesity in Fife

Headaches are the most common symptom and are caused by a high pressure inside the brain that can damage the nerves of the eye.

The document linked the high levels of IIH in Fife with the fact that the county has a higher obesity rate than the Scottish average.

The dott. Colin Goudie, an ophthalmologist at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh, who led the research, said: "The incidence of IIH in Fife has been significantly higher than previous estimates and we believe that this is due to 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 by other studies conducted in similar developed countries."

The figures from the Scottish government have shown that 65% of the adult population has been overweight in 2017.

This was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25. Of these 29% was classified as clinically obese, with a BMI of more than 30.

Optimal weight

The main risk factor for the development of IIH is overweight. In the Fife study more than three-quarters were clinically obese, while the rest were overweight.

None of the normal health weights presented with the condition, with all those affected who were females except one.

The ophthalmologist consultant Andrew Blaikie, a lecturer at the medical faculty of St Andrews University who oversaw the project, said: "Scotland has one of the worst records for obesity in developed countries and the prevalence of Obesity in Fife is higher than the Scottish average.

"We are in the middle of an obesity epidemic and if it continues like this we will see IIH become more common, increasing the risk that a small but significant number of young people lose sight".

He said that the main treatment was to lose weight and reach a normal body mass index, although medicines and even surgery could be used to prevent any long-term damage to vision and to improve the symptoms of headaches.

But he warned that some patients may still develop rapidly progressive and permanent vision loss despite timely treatment.


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