Another Reason to Exercise: Protecting your Sight

Two women and two men in athletic wear run alongside each other on a path outside. They are all smiling.

The new year brings new intentions in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. It’s no surprise that the number one resolution Americans make is to lose weight. If your weight loss program includes regular walks or trips to the gym, you may be getting a bonus benefit you never counted on: protecting your eyesight.

Recent studies have shown that adults who are physically active have almost 75 percent less chance at developing glaucoma, a debilitating eye disease that currently has no cure. Experts say that everyone should do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, and this news should add motivation to those reluctant to start working out.

A Breakthrough Announcement

At the 121st Annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles reported the results of a study of health and nutrition in adults for the past 50 years. They began by looking at walking speed and number of steps taken, and defined a moderate goal of 7,000 moderate to vigorous steps each day. Once the researchers went further into medical histories, they found that for every 10-minute increase in activity subjects did each week, there was a 25 percent reduction in glaucoma risk. In addition, they found that increasing the walking speed and steps per minute could further lower the chance of developing glaucoma.

The results of the study showed that, while regular exercise can lessen your chance of glaucoma in later years, increasing the speed and effort of the workout gave additional protection. Studies have shown that blood pressure and blood flow can change inside the eye because of exercise, and these changes can affect your risk for glaucoma.

Glaucoma and You

As one of the leading causes of blindness, glaucoma is most common in patients over 40 years of age. There are treatments available that can slow the progression of the disease, but currently there is no cure. In the past, it was thought that there were no lifestyle changes you could make to lower your chances of developing the disease, but these encouraging studies seem to indicate that developing healthy living habits can have an influence on eye pressure, which is a major cause of glaucoma.

Schedule an Appointment

In the early stages of glaucoma, it can develop without any significant symptoms. The only way to know for sure if to have a comprehensive eye exam. If you are suffering from glaucoma or are in need of a yearly eye examination, contact us at 904-564-2020 to schedule an appointment.