You have likely heard the saying, “Run for your life.” Soon we could all be saying, “Run for your sight,” and be supported by the latest scientific research. Researchers have recently published findings that suggest physical exercise could very well protect our eyes as we grow older.
A study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that “aerobic exercise is neuroprotective for retinal degeneration.” You can take an optometry class to learn the meaning of this finding, but a simpler translation is to say that physical activity acts to protect our eyesight.
The study was based on observations with lab mice, and scientists noted increased natural growth factors in their brains as a result of exercise. One of these growth factors is called brain derived neurotrophic factor, or B.D.N.F. Exercise raises B.D.N.F. in mice, and suggests that there is a strong possibility of similar results in humans. The human retina contains neurons which are positively affected by these growth factors, and the direct result of raising B.D.N.F levels potentially serves to increase eye health.
Some researchers are quick to point out that, for now, it is impossible to know for sure if exercise has a direct effect on eye health. The best advice is to consult your optometrist if you have a history of eye disease, like retinal degeneration. Your primary care doctor can discuss the benefits and suitability of an exercise program.
There are many health benefits of establishing an exercise program, even if it does not improve eye health. You will look and feel better. Pay your doctor a visit, and get motivated to “run for your sight!”
Find a local optometrist in your area for more information or check out additional resources on eye health and optometry in our resources section.