Considering going on a jog? Physical fitness has a myriad of benefits and now you can add another health advantage to that list. When it comes to your eye health, working out could help reduce the risks of sight loss.
At the University of Virigina School of Medicine, researchers found that exercise can slow and reduce the risk of vision loss caused by diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind reports 5.59 million Canadians have an eye disease that could lead to vision loss. This study suggests treatment options could begin with exercise.
Abnormal blood vessels contribute to macular degeneration and other vision loss related disease. The scientists found that lab mice that engaged in exercise, reduced their abnormal blood vessels by 45%.
"There has long been a question about whether maintaining a healthy lifestyle can delay or prevent the development of macular degeneration," said Bradley Gelfand a researcher in the study. “The way that question has historically been answered has been by taking surveys of people. That is basically the most sophisticated study that has been done. The problem with that is that people are notoriously bad self-reporters... This [study] offers hard evidence from the lab for very first time."
According to the study, you may not have to exercise for long periods of time to see a benefit. If any exercise was performed, there was an advantage detected in blood vessels.
So far, they have conducted two tests comparing mice that willingly exercised with those that did not engage at all. The first test showed 45% reduction of abnormal blood vessels and the second test presented a 32% decrease.
The researchers are hoping to study this topic further to better understand the relationship between exercise and vision loss.
What next? Now that there are clues that physical fitness may help slow the onset of eye disease, scientists are hoping this could transform treatment for elderly populations.
“The next step is to look at how and why this happens, and to see if we can develop a pill or method that will give you the benefits of exercise without having to exercise," Gelfand said.
While younger individuals can reap the benefits by exercising, this is not necessarily the case for seniors who are already experiencing vision loss. This study is just the first step in uncovering the secrets of the progression of eye disease and how it can be prevented.
Next time you’re on a bike ride or on a jog, you might just be doing your eyes a favour. Before you start an exercise routine, you may want to talk to your doctor about what level is the safest for you.
If you have any questions regarding your eye health, contact your FYidoctors.