We all know there are many benefits the body reaps from exercise: stronger muscles and bones, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and improved mood are some of the most well-known. What is less well known is that exercise may actually cause better vision, too!
It is expected that by the year 2050, the number of people who are blind or visually impaired will double. So whether you have eye issues or symptoms or even if you have perfect eyes, exercise can provide serious benefits to your vision and eye health. Here are some common eye issues that regular cardiovascular activity may help you prevent.
Decreased Cataracts Means Better Vision
Studies have found that running and even regular brisk walking may be associated with a decreased risk of cataracts due to aging. Such studies have also found that a lack of cardiovascular physical activity might correlate with an increased risk of cataracts, especially as one ages. A brisk walk a day may keep the cataracts away!
Improve Blood Flow and Reduce the Risks of Glaucoma
Other exercise related eye studies have shown that low-impact, moderate intensity activities like weight training and jogging can help improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve. These activities can also lower IOP (intraocular pressure), which is how doctors treat glaucoma. If you’re at risk for glaucoma, however, be careful not to hold your breath when doing strenuous activities as this can actually increase IOP. It is best practice for any exercise to implement proper breathing techniques throughout the entire activity.
Keep Diabetic Retinopathy Away
Exercise has been shown to be an effective way to help keep diabetes under control. By doing this, a diabetic may help to reduce diabetic complications like retinopathy: the number-one cause of vision loss for working-age adults in the United States.
Lower Likelihood of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Currently, there is no cure for vision loss due to AMD, but research has suggested that exercise might help us protect our eyes from the condition. One study suggests that aerobic exercise helps to increase our levels of “growth factors,” particularly one called BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor) that helps protect retinal structure and functioning from degeneration. Another study found that higher levels of exercise, and running in particular, were associated with reduced risk of AMD. A 2009 study followed more than 40,000 middle-age runners and found that those who covered the highest number of miles had the lowest likelihood of developing AMD.
Studies are showing more and more correlations between physical activity and better vision. We know exercise is good for us in so many other ways, so be sure to keep moderate activity a part of your everyday life for optimal health. If you have concerns about your vision or eye health, call us today to make an appointment.