Unhealthy blood fat levels can cause blindness

Triathletes like Sister Madonna Buder, who completed an Ironman at age 92, certainly prove that tris can be a remarkable way to defy time. But tri-glycerides, a blood fat that helps provide energy to your body and is stored in body fat, can become a serious health hazard if you eat too many refined carbs and added sugars, are sedentary, have diabetes or obesity or drink excess alcohol.

We have long known that when your blood triglyceride levels go over 150 mg/dL, you're at risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. (I recommend aiming for less than 50 mg/dL) But until recently, we've been blind to another serious risk from elevated triglycerides: Primary open-angle glaucoma -- the most common form of the disease. It is a progressive condition that is the leading cause of irreversible blindness.

New research, published in Nature Communications, shows that elevated triglycerides have an effect on your metabolic health and that can lead to the increased eye pressure that typically happens with glaucoma, causing damage to the optic nerve and loss of central and/or peripheral vision.

If you have a family history of glaucoma, or have migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes or sickle cell anemia, you're at increased risk for glaucoma. But everyone should have triglyceride levels checked (along with LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B) regularly, adopt a plant-based diet that includes omega-3-rich fish like salmon, and see an ophthalmologist to check your eye pressure every one to three years if you're 55 to 64; and every one to two years if you're older than 65.

Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. Check out his latest, "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow," and find out more at www.longevityplaybook.com. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Mike at [email protected].

King Features Syndicate

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