Exercise May Preserve Your Vision, Prevent Eye Disease
Physical activity is one of the best choices you can make for your health. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, regular exercise can help preserve your vision and lower your risk for glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
Older Americans Are at Risk for Vision Loss
September is Healthy Aging Month. Getting older does not mean you have to lose your vision. Vision loss and blindness are not a normal part of aging. As you age, however, you are more susceptible to eye disease. By 2030, an estimated 7 million Americans will be visually impaired, but lifestyle changes could prevent many cases.
Study Shows Exercise May Prevent AMD in Mice
Previous studies suggest moderate exercise can reduce the risk of glaucoma and diabetic eye disease. A new study published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science suggests exercise may help prevent blood vessel overgrowth in degenerative eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults older than 50. AMD destroys the sharp, central vision necessary for reading, driving and seeing clearly.
Researchers analyzed two groups of six mice, but only one group used an exercise wheel. After four weeks, the research team found the active mice experienced 45 percent less eye damage than the inactive mice.
“The new study is exciting because it supports previous findings suggesting a link between exercise and prevention of AMD,” said American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson J. Kevin McKinney, M.D., MPH (AAO).
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
If you have not been physically active recently, you might not know where to start. It may be best to begin with just walking 30 minutes per day. You should always consult a physician regarding exercise to choose safe activities that will not increase your risk for injury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. What you do for exercise may depend on your age, cardiovascular fitness and level of mobility. You may consider activities like swimming, cycling, tennis, pickleball, hiking or yoga.
Other Ways to Keep Your Vision Healthy
Besides exercising, you can adopt other positive habits to prevent eye disease and keep your vision clear:
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Quit smoking or don’t smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes.
- Wear sunglasses, sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat when you are in the sun.
Finally, schedule yearly comprehensive eye exams for the whole family. An eye exam with dilation is as essential for your vision as daily exercise. Your ophthalmologist will test your visual acuity and screen you for common eye diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. If you need medication or a procedure, you can begin treatment immediately.
Commit to caring for your vision during Healthy Aging Month. Call today to make an appointment with your ophthalmologist.