Study Suggests Exercise May Prevent Eye Disease


Eye disease prevention in Wilmington, NCA recent study finds that regular exercise, in addition to its many other benefits, may boost eye health. Dr. Gregory J. Johnson and Dr. Gail Kelley of Wilmington’s Intracoastal Eye Care discuss how exercise affects the eyes.

Exercise and Eye Disease

Previous research has shown a link between regular exercise and the prevalence of serious eye diseases. The latest study, which appeared in the May 2020 edition of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, differs from prior research.

Other studies were based on people self-reporting their level of exercise to establish their eye disease risk. This study involved mice instead of humans, so no self-reporting was involved. Instead, this study examined the effects of exercise on the eye directly.

Mice and the Exercise Wheel

The study followed two groups of mice. The groups differed only in that one had an exercise wheel available, while the other did not.

Four weeks after separating the mice into groups, the researchers simulated changes in age-related human vision loss by treating the mice’s eyes with lasers. The end result was that the group with access to the exercise wheel had as much as 45 percent less eye damage than their non-exercising counterparts.

The results may show that exercise supports eye health. Regular exercise may prevent blood vessel overgrowth. This overgrowth is common in many eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

For those age 50 and up, AMD is a primary cause of vision loss. It occurs when the macula, a part of the retina, becomes damaged. AMD causes the loss of central, but not peripheral, vision.

Exercise and Your Eye Health

While studies in mice are valuable and a critical part of scientific research, where does that leave people who want to improve eye health via exercise?

The CDC recommends that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly, or 30 minutes daily five times a week. Walking, cycling and swimming are all good examples of low-impact aerobic exercise.

Our overall health affects our eyes. People with diabetes can keep their condition under better control with regular exercise. That reduces cases of diabetic retinopathy. Exercise may reduce the likelihood of developing glaucoma. For those diagnosed with the disease, exercise can improve the flow of blood to the retina and optic nerve, as well as relieve intraocular pressure.

Contact Us

If you would like to know more about the link between exercise and eye disease, schedule a personal consultation at Wilmington’s Intracoastal Eye with Dr. Gregory J. Johnson or Dr. Gail Kelley. Our singular focus is your well-being, beginning with your vision.