Exercise (2015) and Cataract


Learn more about cataracts and the benefits of exercise on your vision and general health.


Researchers decided to investigate whether exercise could be helpful for reducing the risk of cataracts, which are the major cause of vision loss in the U.S.

They looked at cataract incidence and exercise amounts in a large population (almost 24,000 women and almost 29,000 men) in Sweden. The amount and specific type of exercise performed was obtained through self-administered questionnaires. The cataract incidence was measured through linking to registries of cataract patients. Both exercise and cataract incidence were monitored for more than 12 years, during which time 11,580 cataract cases were reported.

The researchers identified types of exercise:

  • walking or bicycling an hour a day versus hardly ever,
  • heavy manual labor versus mostly sitting,
  • exercise training and home or housework, and
  • leisure time inactivity.

The researchers reported the following results:

  • the top 1/5th in terms of total exercise had 13% lower risk of developing cataracts,
  • the more vigorous types of exercise were similarly associated with less risk,
  • exercise training and home/housework were not associated with risk one way or another, and
  • leisure time inactivity had a higher risk.

They concluded that it is long-term activity (as opposed to a burst of exercise training) that reduces risk of cataracts. And high levels of inactivity increases cataract risk.

Researchers: J. Z. Selin, N. Orsini, et al,
Published: Long-term physical activity and risk of age-related cataract: a population-based prospective study of male and female cohorts, Ophthalmology, February, 2015.