Study Finds Exercise May Prevent Eye Disease
Pediatric Eye Clinic
Regular exercise can slim your waist and improve your mood. Now, a new study suggests that exercise can protect you against eye damage, too.
This could help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of vision loss among people 50 and older.
The findings support previous claims that exercise prevents serious eye diseases like AMD, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. But unlike previous studies that examined disease risk among people who reported their exercise, the new study directly looks at the effects of physical activity on the eyes.
According to Dr. J. Kevin McKinney, MPH, ophthalmologist and spokesperson for the Academy, "The new study is exciting because it supports previous findings with laboratory evidence that suggests a link between exercise and prevention of AMD."
Exercise promotes healthy blood vessels in the eye
The researchers studied two groups of mice: One group had access to an exercise wheel, while the other group did not. After four weeks, the researchers treated the mouse's eye with lasers to simulate the changes that occur in humans with age-related vision loss. After this treatment, the physically active mice had up to 45% less eye damage than the non-active mice.
The study suggests that exercise increases the resilience of the eye. Exercise can protect you against blood vessel overgrowth, which occurs in eye conditions such as neovascular glaucoma, AMD, and diabetic retinopathy.
Regular physical activity promotes eye health
Scientists are still working to understand how exercise protects the human eye. His discoveries could unlock treatments for a number of eye conditions.
But for now, it's clear that exercise can prevent some eye conditions. And if you already have a disease, exercise can help you better manage it. One study found that people who engaged in moderate physical exercise were 25% less likely than inactive people to develop glaucoma. In people who already have glaucoma, regular exercise can lower intraocular pressure and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve. Physical activity can also help people with diabetes keep their disease under control. That reduces the risk of complications, including diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of vision loss among working-age adults.
How much exercise should you do?
The new study reinforces the recommendation that moderate and regular exercise is good for your health. The CDC, WHO, and the American Heart Association recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. That equates to about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. This can include walking, biking, swimming, dancing, and even doing active gardening. Consistent physical activity can help you and your eyes stay healthy.
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