Exercise and Eye Health

Article featured image for excercise and eye health article

Exercise and eye health go hand in hand.

It is common knowledge now that regular physical activity is good for us. It strengthens bones and muscles, improves brain health and mood, helps manage weight, and reduces the risk of several diseases. But something that isn’t quite as commonly known is that exercise is also good for your eye health.

Several studies conducted during the past decade have shown that regular exercise may reduce the risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and type 2 diabetes which can cause visual damage. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can also lower your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which can damage your eyesight.

Studies have shown that low-impact exercise led to significant reductions in eye pressure in people diagnosed with glaucoma. One study found that study participants who engaged in moderate physical exercise were 25% less likely to develop glaucoma than those who were sedentary.

Cardiovascular exercises such as aerobics increases the flow of blood to the optic nerve and retina which can improve your overall eye health and vision.

Exercise can help keep the retinal ganglion cells of your eyes protected. Retinal ganglion cells are a type of neuron located in the retina. They receive visual information from the photoreceptors and transmit that visual information. The ganglion cell axons* form the optic nerve and transmit retinal information. *An axon is the portion of a nerve cell that connects to other structures and carries nerve impulses away from the nerve cell body,  

The key is regular exercise

The Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and American Heart Association all recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. That’s equivalent to about 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. This can include walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and even active gardening.

It is this regular repeated exercise that promotes heart health, stable blood sugar, sustainable energy, weight management, better sleep, and promotes eye health.

If you haven’t been active just start small and aim for 20-to-30 minutes of exercise three times a week. Go for a walk, a run, ride a bike, swim, dance, or play a sport. Find an activity that you enjoy because that means you will be more likely to continue and make it a regular part of your life.

Gregory Scimeca, M.D.
Ophthalmologist and Medical Director
The Eye Professionals

Our Locations