By Alexa Kaczka
People can go a long way towards safeguarding their vision by taking part in regular exercise, one expert has noted.
Clara Eaglen, eye health campaigns manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), said that physical activity plays a major role when it comes to eye health.
She explained that it helps the supply of oxygen to the optic nerve and also helps to lower pressure in the eye, which is important in controlling conditions such as glaucoma.
She noted that the RNIB also recommends regular eye tests, not smoking, eating a balanced diet and protecting eyes from the sun.
Her comments followed recent research published in the Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science journal, which examined the relationship between physical activity and low ocular perfusion pressure (OPP), an important risk factor for glaucoma.
It found that higher levels of physical exercise appeared to have a long-term beneficial impact on OPP.
Ms Eaglen noted that the study highlights the importance of getting outdoors and taking part in exercises, and highlighted how it is vital glaucoma is caught in its early stages.
"In its early stages glaucoma can have no noticeable symptoms, so many patients only seek help when their sight has already deteriorated significantly, and once lost this sight cannot be restored.
"Early detection is crucial, as with the right treatment it is possible for many people to retain their vision. RNIB recommends regular eye tests."
The expert explained that the best way to check your eye health and spot early symptoms of eye conditions such as glaucoma, is to go for regular eye tests, and this is particularly important if a family member has glaucoma."
In a recent multi-centre study, Lawson Health Research Institute's Dr Cindy Hutnik and colleagues examined the risk factors for glaucoma shared by 404 newly-diagnosed patients across 18 Canadian locations.
The data showed that 48 per cent of these new diagnoses were already at moderate to advanced stages, which suggest many people could already be at significant risk of blindness.
by Adrian Galbreth