Whether you like running, biking, playing tennis, swimming, or walking, physical exercise is always beneficial. It builds strength, endurance and muscle tone, and it gives you energy and boosts your mood. As if those reasons were not enough, there is another benefit of exercise: it can protect your vision!
Several studies show that as the American population gets older, the number of visually impaired or blind individuals will double by 2050. Visual impairment is not just increasing in the United States; it is increasing worldwide.
Adding regular exercise into your daily routine can significantly reduce your chances of developing diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and wet age-related macular degeneration. Exercise can decrease your risk for diseases like diabetes or hypertension, which then decreases your risk for diseases like diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma (Source: Cleveland Clinic).
You may not feel like you are preserving your vision when you exercise, but consider how exercise can help these common eye conditions:
- Running or walking can help decrease the risk of age-related cataracts
- Exercising three or more times per week will make you less likely to develop wet age-related macular degeneration
- Moderate intensity, low-impact exercise helped significantly reduce eye pressure in young adults with glaucoma
If you are not currently exercising regularly, talk to your doctor about creating a fitness program and setting some goals. Some people may find that their best and most consistent time is early in the morning or late at night.
Finally, stay current with your comprehensive eye exams and keep a good line of communication with your ophthalmologist. Eye diseases can run in families, so talk to your family about any eye diseases that could be hereditary. Early detection means early treatment!