A study has recently found that early eye damage caused by obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes can potentially be reversed by bariatric surgery.
Changes to the vascular structure of the retina can reflect damage caused by obesity, hypertension, diabetes and a range of other chronic disease processes.
Despite such diseases being commonplace in the population, the impact of weight loss resulting from bariatric surgery on the retinal microvasculature is not well known.
Lead author Robyn Tapp of the University of Melbourne, Australia, and Leeds Beckett University in Leeds, UK, together with Dr Antti Viljanen (Turku University, Finland) and colleagues from Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong and London studied the effects of weight loss on the retinal microvasculature of obese participants following bariatric (obesity) surgery.
Eye changes were analysed from a study conducted at Turku PET Centre, Finland.
It included 22 obese participants scheduled for obesity surgery were recruited along with 15 lean, age-matched controls.
Detailed eye examinations were performed at the start of the study and six months later to look for signs of obesity-related impairments to the vascular structure of the retina.
The team found that in the six months following the bariatric surgery, the obese subjects lost an average of 26kg while also showing improvements in the microvasculature of their retinas.
Arteriolar narrowing and venular widening were both less pronounced, whereas no such changes took place in the control group.
The authors concluded, "The capacity for the retinal microvasculature to improve following bariatric surgery suggests plasticity of the human microvasculature early in the disease course."
The research is presented at Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Lisbon, Portugal.
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