London: Men, please note – putting on weight in middle age can significantly raise your risk of getting blind later in life, says a new study.
An international team has found that an expanding waistline puts men in danger of developing age-related macular degeneration which leads to vision loss - even small increases in waist size can raise the risk of AMD by up to 75 per cent.
But women do not appear to be affected. This is due to the female hormone oestrogen, the `Daily Mail` reported.
For their study, researchers, led by at the University of Melbourne, monitored changes in the waistlines of more than 21,000 men and women, all aged between 40 and 69, over several years and tracked how many went on to develop AMD.
"There is evidence that chronic inflammation is involved in AMD and obesity is a pro-inflammatory state. Our study underlines the importance of abdominal obesity as a risk factor for AMD," the researchers said.
The results showed that even small changes in a man`s waist/hip ratio -- a measure of his waist compared to his hips - led to a sharp increase in risk. A healthy score is usually anything below a ratio of around 0.95. Anything above that raises the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
But the team found that for each increase of 0.1 in the waist/hip ratio, a man`s chances of developing AMD soared by 75 per cent.
Nine in 10 cases involve "dry AMD" which develops over several years. The rest involve "wet AMD" which can cause blindness in just three months. It is caused by the growth of new blood vessels over the macula, a small oval-shaped area at the back of eye that helps us pick out visual details clearly.