According to a new study, regular exercise can help stave off the development of cataracts.
Swedish researchers found that people who exercised regularly had a 13% decreased risk of cataract when compared to those with less active lifestyles.
This latest study adds to the growing body of evidence about the beneficial effects of exercise on eye health – particularly, age-related conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside your eye. It is caused by chemical changes in the proteins within the lens material. Researchers believe exercise helps protect the lens by reducing oxidative stress and improving the balance of “good” proteins in the lens.
Macular degeneration is caused by a breakdown of the delicate cells in the central area of the retina at the back of your eyes. It is thought that the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of exercise help slow down degenerative changes at the macula.
Glaucoma is an eye disease characterized by damage to the optic nerve at the back of the eye. Studies show that regular exercise can help reduce your risk of glaucoma developing by lowering eye pressure and improving blood flow to the optic nerve. However, it is important to remember that while exercise can be beneficial, it does not replace the need to use glaucoma medications.
Diabetes & blood pressure
Many eye conditions are linked to general health problems. For example, diabetes, blood pressure and high cholesterol. It is well known that by exercising regularly you can help keep these health problems at bay. This in turn reduces your risk of developing eye complications, like diabetic retinopathy and burst or blocked blood vessels at the back of your eyes.
As well as exercise, other healthy lifestyle choices have been shown to reduce your risk of developing eye disease. These include not smoking, protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV rays and eating a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables.
The good news is that you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. Regularly engaging in low intensity activities, like walking, cycling or dancing can work just as well. Remember, it will not only benefit your general health and energy levels - it will help protect your eyesight too.