It is common knowledge that exercise has a number of health benefits, but it turns out that regular exercise, along with a healthy diet, is also excellent at promoting eye health. Researchers believe that the positive benefits that protect the body against cardiovascular disease also help protect the eyes against a variety of diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts. High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are all known risk factors for a number of health problems, and are all implicated in varying degrees to eye health. They are also all helped by regular exercise. Read on to learn more about exercise and eye health.


    Although glaucoma can affect anyone, it is known that a sedentary lifestyle adds to the risk of developing this condition. Moderate exercise has been associated with lowering the pressure within the eye, which in turn, improves blood flow to the retina and optic nerve.


    Although AMD has no known cure and is primarily related to aging, there appears to be a link between increasing cardiovascular disease and the development of AMD. Since exercise helps fight cardiovascular disease, it also linked to warding off AMD.


    Exercise and diet are important factors in controlling diabetes and can reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.


    Cataracts have been linked to elevated cholesterol, inflammation, and oxidation. All three of these conditions can be improved through vigorous exercise.

    To reap the full protective benefits of exercise for the health of your eyes, it is important to continue your exercise routine with moderate to vigorous exercise at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes at a time. According to one study, those who participated in moderate exercise at least three times weekly for 30 minutes were 70 percent less likely to develop AMD and significantly less likely to develop cataracts. Those who participated in more vigorous exercises such as running — particularly those who ran between 2.5 and three miles per day or more — were 35 percent less likely to develop AMD than those who ran less.

    An additional study suggests that regular exercise can naturally increase levels of growth factor in the bloodstream, particularly the brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It is believed that these substances help keep neurons in the brains healthy and increase brain health, which in turn, improves a person’s overall health. In particular, brain-derived neurotrophic factor is related to light detection by nerves within the eyes, which send signals to the brain. When these nerves work properly, vision is significantly improved.

    To learn more about eye health and the important role of exercises, schedule an appointment today to see your Silverstein Eye Centers specialists by calling (816) 358-3600. We look forward to seeing you soon.

    Posted May 20, 2014 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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