Couch potato teenagers risk 'loss of vision'
A lazy lifestyle is leading to a rise in diabetes-related blindness, a leading scientist has warned.
Irish teenagers and those in their early-20s with a 'couch potato' lifestyle and diets rich in sugars, fats and alcohol are reported to have the eyesight equivalent of those in their 60s.
According to Dr Philip Cummins from Dublin City University, up to 90 per cent of diabetes cases are caused by diet and a sedentary lifestyle.
Figures from Diabetes Ireland show that 225,840 Irish people live with the condition.
As a result, Dr Cummins and Niall Barron, along with colleagues in Queen's University Belfast and the University of Utah in the US are developing a drug to reverse the damage to the retina.
The research has already started but will take up to five years to complete.
Dr Cummins said: “Diabetic retinopathy (DR), a widespread complication of diabetes and now the leading global cause of new blindness cases in working age adults.
"Being a couch potato and having a diet high in sugar and fats is actually leading to poor eyesight and in many cases blindness.
“As a result of the spiralling numbers of people with diabetes due to being couch potatoes, having diets rich in sugar, fats and alcohol, scientists and clinicians are now having to develop drugs which will counteract the health effects of such lifestyles, with poor sight and blindness being one of the worrying results.
“This disease is caused by chronically elevated blood glucose levels which can severely damage the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye,” explained Dr Cummins.
This follows the news from earlier this week that sedentary lifestyles are now posing as great a threat to public health as smoking, and were causing more deaths than obesity.
Research on more than one million adults found that sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent.
Scientists urged anyone spending hours at their desk to change their daily routine to take a five minute break every hour, as well as exercise at lunchtimes and evenings.