A new long-term study out of the University of California, Los Angeles suggests that regular physical exercise could reduce a person's risk of developing glaucoma.
Researchers found that people who exercised regularly were 73 percent less likely to be diagnosed with glaucoma than people who didn't exercise at all. They also found that the risk of glaucoma declined by 25 percent for every 10-minute increase from moderate to intense cardio.
Doctors involved in this study believe exercise helps with glaucoma protection because it reduces intraocular pressure (IOP) by bringing in fresh blood to the eyes. One of the first warning signs of glaucoma is an above average IOP reading.
Victoria Tseng, an ophthalmologist in Los Angeles, was the head author on this study. Dr. Tseng explained to journalists, "People who exercise with higher speed and more steps of walking or running may even further decrease their glaucoma risk compared to people who exercise at lower speeds with less steps."
Official guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say adults should get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate cardio every week along with two days of muscle-training sessions. Alternatively, adults could shoot for one hour and 15 minutes of intense cardio per week and two strength-training days.
Although there are many different forms of glaucoma, most glaucoma cases involve an increase of IOP and damage to the optic nerve. Oftentimes patients don't experience visual symptoms of glaucoma until the disease has progressed a great deal. If patients go to the eye doctor on a regular basis, they are more likely to catch glaucoma early on and slow down symptoms.
Most glaucoma patients are prescribed IOP-reducing drops like Latanoprost or Travoprost. In more serious cases, eye doctors can perform laser eye surgery.
After cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness around the world. For some unknown reason, glaucoma affects African Americans and Hispanics four times more than Caucasians.
While this study is compelling, scientists have yet to publish it in a peer-reviewed journal. University of California researchers shared these findings at the 2017 American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) yearly conference.
This year's AAO conference was held from November 11th to 14th in New Orleans's Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. A few other lectures heard at the AAO conference include corneal refractive surgery, new anti-glaucoma medications, and the management of diabetic retinopathy.