Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adults over 50. Learn five simple lifestyle changes you can make today to help reduce your risk for developing this incurable disease.
Did you know that regular exercise can help you look better and see better? Exercise enables you to maintain a healthy weight or lose excess pounds, keeps your muscles toned and your body strong, and improves your overall health. Part of improving your overall health is ensuring healthy vision.
Exercise protects your vision in two ways:
Multiple studies point to the fact that the key to reducing your risk of developing eye conditions, many of which can lead to blindness, is to stick to a regular exercise routine that involves at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity several times a week.
For example, AMD affects more than 9.1 million Americans and is a common eye condition more prevalent in older adults; it’s also a leading cause of vision loss. One study followed participants for 15 years and found that those who exercised at least three times a week had lower rates of AMD than those who didn’t exercise regularly.
Another study followed 52,000 middle-aged and older participants for 12 years and found that long-term physical activity, such as walking or biking, was associated with lower rates of cataracts and that inactivity was associated with an increased risk of cataracts. By age 75, half of all Americans have cataracts.
Losing weight and exercising regularly helps reduce your risk for conditions associated with vision impairment and loss, as well as many other complications. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes can all lead to eye diseases and vision loss if left untreated. Regular exercise can reduce your risk for all of those conditions — and many more.
People with diabetes have a greater risk of developing eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma. Losing even just 10% of your body weight through exercise and healthy eating can significantly reduce your risk of diabetes-related eye diseases.
High blood pressure, which affects an estimated one in three US adults, can harm your eyes in many ways. Hypertension increases your risk for:
Cholesterol deposits can also build up in your eye, increasing your risk for AMD. Studies suggest that reducing cholesterol buildup can reduce your risk for AMD.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. This might include walking, biking, and swimming, and strength training at least twice a week. Experts suggest exercising every day, if possible, even if that means taking the stairs at work or walking around the block during your lunch hour.
You don’t even have to exercise all at once. You can break it up into three, or more, 10-minute walks or 10-minute chunks of putting on your favorite music and dancing. Gardening, yoga, and housework count as physical activity, too!
In addition to regular exercise, seeing your eye doctor for regular eye exams is also essential in keeping your eyes healthy and your vision intact.
To learn more about why exercise is essential for your eye health, call University Retina, with locations in Oak Forest and Bedford Park, Illinois, or make an appointment online.
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