Obesity in women could cause permanent sight loss, report finds

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Scotland’s “obesity epidemic” could be causing “irreversible sight loss” in young women, a new study has suggested.

Researchers analysed patterns all patients who presented to NHS Fife over the course of a year with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH).

This is a disease which typically affects young overweight females, causing headaches. High pressure within the brain can also damage nerves of sight in a small number of patients.

Dr Andrew Blaikie, who oversaw the research, warned that high levels of obesity in Scotland were “increasing the risk of a small but significant number of young people losing vision”.

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He said: “We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic and if this continues we will see IIH becoming more common, increasing the risk of a small but significant number of young people losing vision.

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“As being overweight is the cause of the disease the primary treatment is to lose weight and achieve a normal BMI. This can be augmented with medicines and sometimes surgery to prevent any long-term damage to sight and improve symptoms of headache.”

In 2017, 65 per cent of Scotland’s adult population was considered overweight. All of those who presented with IIH were overweight or obese, and all but one were female.