Moderate Exercise May Prevent AMD, Glaucoma and Cataract Development

Moderate Exercise May Prevent AMD, Glaucoma and Cataract Development

You know that eating the right diet and maintaining a good exercise program is essential to optimal health. These two things alone offer many opportunities for vital functions to keep running on all cylinders.

By keeping your system clean and clear it may be possible to create a more inhospitable environment for disease. Yet, it make take just simple changes rather than a huge commitment to gain the benefits of diet and especially exercise.

A Time magazine article from 10/16/13 cites a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine stating,

“There’s growing evidence that lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet and exercising more may be enough to prevent and even treat conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer.”

When it comes to vision challenges such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and cataracts, specific foods have shown to possibly slow or even prevent these diseases. Foods such as dark green leafy vegetables which contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds that have been linked to enhancing visual health are one example of how nutrition can be essential.

However, exercise is different story. It is a personal mission for everyone and you may not be sure how much you might need for eye disease as well as overall systemic disease prevention. Plus, you may not like exercise and the thought of going to a gym might be a source of stress when you’re trying to relieve stress in the first place.

Recent studies show a variety of options and results which may enable you to figure out what works best for you. Something as simple as walking a little more could make a significant beneficial difference both physically and mentally. Either way, there’s no need to be discouraged by the thought of exercise becoming a difficult chore. In many cases, moderate exercise may prevent AMD, glaucoma and cataract development.

Rodent Treadmill Results

Scientists often use mice or rats in the lab to study physical and/or psychological effects of many applications. As there was limited data on the influence of exercise on vision, Dr. Machelle Pardue, a researcher at the Atlanta VA Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation decided to put exercise to the test using rodent models. A group of mice were trained to run on a treadmill for one hour per day, five days a week and were then exposed to a “toxic light” able to cause retinal degeneration.

Medical Daily reported on the study,

“The team found that the exercise program was remarkably effective in protecting the mice from retinal problems. Compared to a control group that didn’t exercise at all, the mice that ran on the treadmill lost only half the number of photoreceptor cells. In addition, their retinal cells appeared to be more responsive to light and exhibited higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein involved in eye growth and health.”

Dr. Pardu commented,

“This is the first report of simple exercise having a direct effect on retinal health and vision,…This research may one day lead to tailored exercise regimens or combination therapies in treatments of blinding diseases.”

No Need to Overexert for AMD Prevention

You may think you need to commit to a New Year’s resolution and start that gym membership asap. Although it is an excellent goal, if the gym makes you queasy just thinking about it there are ways to gain the benefits of exercise without having it become an uncomfortable task. Simple activity changes may not only help heart, bone, muscle and mental health (to name a few) they may increase your chances of avoiding age-related macular degeneration.

A study reported by The American Academy of Ophthalmology found that,

“…researchers looked at the medical history of more than 3,800 people to see if there was a relationship between developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and being physically inactive. The scientists found that people who exercised three times a week were less likely to develop AMD than people who didn’t exercise.”

However, don’t overdo it. Vigorous exercise may be too stressful on your retina according to new research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). 211,960 participants were studied by Korean scientists and, according to a report on the study by the New York Times (12/14/17),

“exercising vigorously five or more days a week was associated with a 54 percent increased risk of macular degeneration in men. They did not find the association in women.”

Seems like science gives you permission to take physical fitness a little less seriously and maybe concentrate on how enjoyable it may actually be while you’re doing it, not just after.

Protect Yourself From Glaucoma

Another benefit of exercise is the potential for protecting yourself from glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness today.

Medical News Today (11/15/17) reports on a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology stating that,

“Using nationwide survey data collected in the United States, the researchers found that compared with the least active, the most physically active people appeared to have a 73 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma.”

Glaucoma affects your eye’s IOP (intraocular pressure) turning it into dangerous levels that can severely affect vision. Exercise has shown to lower IOP just as well as pharmaceuticals.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology also reports that,

“…researchers followed more than 5,600 men and women to see if there was a link between moderate exercise and ocular perfusion pressure, an important factor in the development of glaucoma. People who engaged in moderate physical exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop glaucoma than people who were largely inactive.”

Moderate physical exercise can be walking, swimming, biking or even dancing!

Simple Exercise for Cataracts

Cataracts are a cloudy film that develop over one or both eyes that eventually need surgery to be removed. Yet, some practitioners believe that a healthy lifestyle can ward off this development that often happens after the age of 60. However, you don’t need to be a ‘gym rat’ to gain these benefits, in fact you don’t even need to go to a gym at all.

Researchers at Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA published findings of a study titled, ‘Walking and running are associated with similar reductions in cataract risk’ in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (6/13).

The study reviewed 32,610 runners and 14,917 walkers during a 6.2-yr follow-up which concluded that,

“When adjusted for sex, race, age, education, smoking, and intakes of meat, fruit, and alcohol, lower cataract risk was significantly associated with both running and walking, with no significant difference in the risk reduction [] per day between running and walking or between men and women. Moderate (walking) and vigorous (running) exercise were both significantly associated with lower cataract risk and their effects similar. Cataract risk appears to decrease linearly with increasing exercise energy expenditure,”

So take a walk for thirty minutes a day and do your eyes some good. If you’re so inclined, step it up a little and try jogging now and again. Either way, science states that this may be all it takes (in conjunction with healthy eating) to keep cataracts out of your line of sight.

Stay out of harm’s way and keep moving. Remember that a healthy diet and moderate exercise may prevent AMD, glaucoma and cataract development. Plus, much more, like weight loss, heart health and mood enhancement.