Glaucoma Risk Reduced by Exercising

exercise seems to reduce the risk of glaucomaWant to reduce your risk of glaucoma? Stay physically active. A study in the Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science Journal showed that higher levels of activity seems to have a beneficial impact on ocular perfusion pressure (OPP). OPP is a crucial risk factor for developing glaucoma.

The study was done on 5,650 adults aged 48-90 in the U.K. It measured the relationship between current OPP and physical activity over time. The subjects filled out lifestyle and health questionnaires. The surveys recorded how much physical activity the subjects got during both work hours and leisure time. They were given tests to measure eye pressure  (intraocular pressure — IOP) and blood pressure.

This study showed a 25% reduced risk of low OPP in study participants who had moderate physical exercise approximately 15 years before.

Based on this study, the researchers believe that OPP is largely determined by cardiovascular (heart) fitness. There seems to be association between factors which increase the risk of glaucoma and a sedentary lifestyle.

The study is groundbreaking because it seems to be the  first time a relationship between OPP and physical activity has been researched. Other studies have looked at how physical activity affects intraocular pressure (IOP) and blood pressure, the two components of OPP.

“Before now, the only modifiable risk factor for glaucoma was IOP, altered by medication, laser or surgery,” said study co-author Paul J. Foster, MD PhD, FRCS (Ed), of the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology. “We believe our study points toward a new way of reducing glaucoma risk, through maintaining an active lifestyle. This is a way that people can participate in altering their risk of glaucoma and many other serious health problems.”

Editor’s Note: This study backs up the idea that life-long fitness is important to many aspects of health, including eye health — specifically glaucoma. The deleterious impacts of a sedentary lifestyle cannot be under-estimated. Learn more about glaucoma.

Study: Yip JLY, Broadway D et. al. Physical Activity and Ocular Perfusion Pressure: The EPIC-Norfolk Eye Study. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science Journal. 2011 October;52(11);8186-8192.

This research substantiates earlier findings:

Recent study data provide preliminary evidence that vigorous physical activity may reduce glaucoma risk, which, in the absence of medical record validation, could represent ocular hypertension in addition to frank glaucoma. Additional follow up with validation is needed to identify the type of glaucoma affected.

SOURCE: Williams PT. Relationship of incident glaucoma versus physical activity and fitness in male runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41(8):1566-1572