You probably already know that exercise can help keep your body fit, but you might not realize that it can help your vision too.
Whether you have perfect vision or are experiencing symptoms of eye disease, exercise can be beneficial. The following are some specific problems that will help prevent every time you hit the gym or even just take a brisk walk:
AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration)
Age-related vision loss from AMD can be devastating as there is no cure. However, research suggests that physical activity might help protect our eyes from AMD as we age. One study found that higher doses of exercise, running specifically, are associated with a reduced risk of AMD. Another study suggests that aerobic exercise increases the levels of “growth factors,” especially one called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (B.D.N.F.), that contribute to the protection of retinal function and structure from degeneration.
Physical activity can help keep diabetes under control, which in turn, helps reduce complications such as diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of vision loss among working age adults in the US.
Exercise has been shown to lower IOP (intraocular pressure) and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve. Studies have been done to show both jogging and weight lifting have significant benefits. Just be careful because holding your breath, which is common in weight-lifting and yoga, can actually increase IOP.
If you’re worried that you will need to start training for a triathlon to reap the eye benefits of exercise, don’t be. A regular program of moderate activity will go a long way to keeping your eyes and body healthy and working well. If you have any questions about your current level of exercise or have concerns about starting a new program, talk with your eye doctor.