One More Reason to Exercise: Protect Your Sight
New research suggests moderate to vigorous physical activity may reduce glaucoma risk by as much as 73 percent. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, just presented the exercise-vision study at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Glaucoma, which is more common in people over 40, is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Although treatment can slow its progression, there is no cure. Several recent studies have shown that lifestyle factors – including physical activity levels – can influence eye pressure, a major risk factor for glaucoma.
For this study, researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a large study tracking health and nutrition in U.S. adults since the 1960s. They measured physical activity in terms of walking speed and steps per minute as tracked on a pedometer and defined 7,000 steps a day as moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. The researchers discovered that for each 10-unit increase in walking speed and steps per minute, glaucoma risk decreased by 6 percent, and for each 10-minute increase in moderate-to-vigorous activity per week, glaucoma risk decreased 25 percent.