New research, published online in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology suggests that patients with diabetes who remain active may have lower risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, a vision-robbing eye condition.
While no direct cause-and-effect relationship has been established between the two, a correlation between a sedentary lifestyle and eye disease is apparent, according to the U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI).
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that involves changes to retinal blood vessels that can cause them to bleed or leak fluid. This change distorts vision, eventually leading to total blindness. It is the most common cause of vision loss for diabetics.
In order to test whether or not exercise has an effect of the development of the disease, a team led by Paul Loprinzi at the University of Mississippi ran tests on 282 U.S. diabetes patients, with an average age of 62. Approximately one-third of them already had symptoms of the disease.
A scientific tool called an accelerometer was used to measure activity, similar to step counting apps and devices popular in the fitness world. The results of the study showed that the participants were physically inactive almost 9 hours, on average, of their waking day.
But those that were more active showed lower levels of diabetic retinopathy, either having less developed instances of the disease, or no signs of it all.