Maintain Your Vision Health Through Exercise as You Age

The importance of regular physical exercise on overall health is well-known, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can reduce the risk of major diseases, from diabetes to heart disease. But its benefits do not stop there. It can also improve your eye health, which is something many Americans 40 and older desperately need. Empirical evidence suggests that exercise may be one of the very best tools we have to stem the rising tides of sight loss. 

When the eyes of older adults weaken, they become more susceptible to disease. This is why age-related eye disease is more common in this group. Exercise can help keep numerous diseases at bay. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma are just a few of the common conditions seen with increasing frequency in older eyes. Regular exercise has been shown to decrease the risk associated with these conditions, strengthening them and making them healthier, per the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The discomfort of dry eyes is enough to drive anyone mad. But the good news is that regular exercise can help improve that too. According to a 2022 study, exercise can prompt stronger tear film production. This film keeps the eye moist and keeps the cornea safe. It works wonders when the eye needs speedy recovery from injury. But when tear production is not enough, the result can be excruciating. It can lead to eye inflammation and corneal disease, in addition to blurred vision and dryness. Participants in the 2022 study who exercised at least five times a week appeared to be producing more and better quality tears than those who exercised only once per week or not at all.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week for optimal health. You can choose simple and easy exercises like speed walking, cycling or water aerobics. But vigorous-intensity workouts are also a good option. They only require 75 minutes of exercise per week to meet the guidelines. This could involve running, swimming or activities that get your heart rate up.

Establishing a regular fitness regime can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Breaking the recommended weekly amount down into 30-minute daily workouts can also be effective. It’s important to stick to the schedule and possibly enlist a workout partner for motivation. Always be sure to wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Protective eyewear should also be used when you are playing sports. Smoking can also lead to severe eye damage and blindneess.

Regular exercise has benefits that extend far beyond eye health. It can facilitate improvements in mental health, sleep and longevity. The time and effort you invest in physical activity today will pay off in a future that is sure to be brighter and clearer thanks to better, healthier eyes.


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