According to studies published in the January 2009 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, people who ran an average of 1.2 and 2.4 miles per day had a 19 percent lower risk for macular degeneration, and people who ran more than 2.4 miles per day had between 42 percent and 54 percent lower risk of the disease.
This is ground breaking news for people at risk for macular degeneration. We have known nutrition, smoking cessation, and protection from UV light are keys to the prevention of this debilitating disease. Now we can add one more tool to our list--Vigorous EXERCISE.
According to studies are published in the January 2009 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, men who ran more than 5.7 miles per day had a 35 percent lower risk of developing cataracts than men who ran less than 1.4 miles per day. When they compared 10-kilometer race performances, the fittest men boasted one-half the risk of developing cataracts compared to the least-fit men.
So far, indirect evidence exists that supports the theory that exercise can reduce the risk of glaucoma, but we are unaware of any large randomized, multi-center studies designed to answer the question directly. Glaucoma is the most complicated, sneaky disease we manage in the world of eye care. In many cases, it is very difficult to detect with certainty until its end stages, and it may be many diseases--not just one disease.
The evidence? Some smaller studies show exercise may reduce the pressure inside your eyes, which is the key goal in glaucoma treatment. It has also been shown that improving blood flow to your optic nerve is neuro-protective. Exercise also improves your systemic health and reduces systemic risk factors like hypertension and diabetes.
Our recommendation? Try it. It can't hurt, and it may help. Just remember this about glaucoma: the only proven course of action is lowering the IOP (intraocular pressure) in your eyes. Today's meds do that very well. Let exercise be a supplemental and stay on your drops until proven otherwise.
Diabetic eye disease
It is well established that exercise benefits those with diabetes in every way it can be measured. Exercise improves blood sugar control, which in turn, reduces the risk of vascular disease on the retina (diabetic retinopathy.)