Researchers at the Emory Eye Center and the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center have discovered that moderate aerobic exercise helps to preserve the structure and function of nerve cells in the retina after damage.
These findings came from a study of an animal model of Age-Related Macular Degeneration.
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye disease that causes damage to the macula (central retina) of the eye. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in our senior population, and can lead to diminished central vision.
The study authors believe that this research may lead to tailored exercise regimens or combination therapies for those with retinal degenerative diseases.
Multiple Studies Reveal Similar Findings
In another study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, one in four older adults (ages 43-86) had an active lifestyle, engaging in physical activity strenuous enough to work up a sweat three or more times per week.
After taking other risk factors for AMD into account (including weight, cholesterol levels and age), researchers found those with an active lifestyle were 70% less likely to develop wet AMD than those who had a sedentary lifestyle.
The risk of AMD also was also 30% lower among people who walked more than 12 blocks regularly.
In addition, people who lead an active lifestyle may be biologically younger than those whose lifestyle is more sedentary, which may also reduce their risk of wet AMD because it is a disease associated with aging.
Moderate Exercise is All it Takes
Furthermore, these kinds of results appear to be possible with moderate exercise, such as taking a brisk walk a few times per week, which is extremely encouraging for those who have difficulty exercising more often.
Future studies will examine whether exercise may be beneficial in treating Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy. So keep a watchful eye on our blog, and get out there and exercise at least a few times each week!