RESEARCH ROUND-UP Exercising more could help reduce risk of glaucoma
Science snapshots SHEDDING LIGHT ON EXERCISE Glaucoma is a common eye condition that arises from a build-up of fluid in the eye, damaging the optic nerve – a structure that’s vital for vision. It most commonly aﬀects those aged over 40, but can strike at any age. As it typically presents without symptoms in its early stages, it’s the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Despite its high incidence, little is known about how to best prevent glaucoma, which has no cure; however, new findings suggest that regular exercise may play a key role. A team of US researchers, led by Victoria Tseng, analysed data from the National 88
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Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – a large study that has been assessing the health of US adults since the 1960s – to see if the data sheds any light on the link between exercise and eye health. They began by defining moderate to vigorous activity in real-life terms: taking 7,000 steps a day for seven consecutive days was considered to be the same as doing 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on at least five days a week. Tseng and colleagues found that participants’ risk of glaucoma fell by six per cent for each 10-unit increase in walking speed and number of steps taken per minute. And glaucoma risk decreased by 25 per cent for every 10-minute increase in moderate-to-vigorous activity per week.
“Our research suggests that it’s not only the act of exercising that may be associated with decreased glaucoma risk, but that people who exercise with higher speed and more steps of walking or running may even further decrease their glaucoma risk compared to people who exercise at lower speeds with less steps,” Tseng told Health Club Management. “We know that blood flow to the optic nerve and the front of the eye plays a role in glaucoma development and progression, and we also know that blood flow in the body changes with exercise. Therefore, it is not surprising that the two are associated. Tseng V et al. Another reason to exercise: protecting your sight. American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Nov 2017
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