Physical activity is a critical component of your overall well-being. Study after study demonstrates that unhealthy behaviors such as a sedentary lifestyle, heavy smoking and poor diet affect your heart and rates of diabetes, cancer, disability, brain function and mortality. Your ocular health is among this litany of health dangers from lack of exercise. Research has shown a link between physical activity and three leading causes of vision loss — age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Dr. Ernest W. Kornmehl discusses how your activity level impacts your vision.
Physical Activity and Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD happens when the center of your retina (macula) deteriorates with age and affects your center field of vision. A 2018 analysis found that an active lifestyle reduced the risk of AMD development, and if you already have AMD, increased physical activity may slow its progression. A poor diet combined with a lack of physical activity and smoking increases AMD risk. These traits have a cumulative effect. The more healthy behaviors you have, the lower your odds become for developing AMD.
Glaucoma and an Active Lifestyle
Glaucoma affects the fluid in your eyes, causing poor drainage or excess fluid buildup that increases eye pressure and damages the optic nerve. Exercise is shown to have a protective impact on the brain, particularly with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There may be a similar benefit of exercise on eye diseases such as glaucoma. Studies have hinted that regular exercise may protect the optic nerve from injury caused by intraocular pressure.
Physical Activity and Diabetic Retinopathy
Regular exercise and proper diet typically manage type 2 diabetes symptoms. These lifestyle factors can prevent you from developing type 2 diabetes altogether. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood sugar levels are high for extended periods, causing the blood vessels inside your retina to rupture and bleed into the eye’s fluid. Moderate physical activity can lower your likelihood of moderate-to-severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
A Bidirectional Link Between Vision Loss and Physical Activity
Glaucoma, AMD and diabetic retinopathy are all eye diseases associated with lower activity levels. It seems the less you exercise, the worse your vision, but do you work out less because you have poor eyesight, or do you have poor eyesight because you work out less?
Both circumstances could be true. Visual impairment can make your normal activities challenging, and you may avoid exercise for fear of injury because of poor eyesight. No matter the reasoning, you may be able to reduce your vision impairment or prevent further vision loss through regular exercise, a diet that includes antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids and no smoking.
Schedule Your Eye Exam at Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates
You can avoid vision loss from common eye diseases through regular comprehensive eye exams and a healthy lifestyle. Contact Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates in Boston today to schedule your appointment.