We all know exercise is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle and keeping our bodies fit and well, but did you know exercise can also help keep your eyes healthy too.
There have been many studies over the last few years indicating regular exercise is linked to lowering risks of certain eye diseases and conditions.
Glaucoma is an eye condition caused when the optic nerve is damaged, and it commonly happens when the fluid within your eye cannot drain properly. This then puts pressure on the optic nerve leading to damage, and if left untreated can cause vision loss. There are various types of glaucoma, but they can usually be treated with eye drops that lower the eyes’ internal pressure and if necessary surgery can also be carried out. A study in 2011, which was carried out using young adults, concluded that low-impact, moderate intensity exercise resulted in significant decreases in eye pressure.
Cataracts are a very common eye condition where the natural crystalline lens within the eye ages making it cloudy, which in turn affects vision. Many factors contribute to the development of age-related cataracts and the majority of the population will develop some degree of cataract later in life. Treatment for cataracts is very common and generally a straight forward procedure by removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens implant. While cataracts caused by an eye trauma or injury cannot be helped apart from with surgery, age-related cataract development could be slowed down with exercise. A study carried out in 2013 showed that a brisk walk or run may be linked to a lower risk of age-related cataracts and another similar study carried out a few years later showed comparable results. It also concluded a lack of exercise could be linked to an increased risk of age-related cataract development.
Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
AMD is an eye disease that can lead to central vision loss over time. There are two types of AMD; wet and dry. While dry AMD is less serious, as vision loss is slower over many years, wet AMD is more serious and if left untreated vision can depreciate within days. Wet AMD starts when abnormal blood vessels grown under the macular which damages the cells, leaking blood and fluid into the eye, which leads to the vision loss. A study which was carried out over a 15-year period on 4000 older adults concluded that the adults that exercised 3 or more times per week were less likely to develop wet AMD.
Author: Samer Hamada is a distinguished consultant ophthalmologist and cornea surgeon performing eye surgeries at his practice, Eye Clinic London. With nearly two decades’ experience, Mr. Hamada is recognised as a leading expert in the field of cataract, refractive lens exchange (RLE) and corneal surgeries.
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