Effects of Exercise on Your Vision

Posted January 18, 2021


It’s the time of year when we all lace up our shoes, renew that gym membership, or sign up with a trainer. Exercise resolutions can be hard to keep, but we all want a slimmer waistline, a chance to destress, and a way to stay healthy. Not only does exercise help with obesity, arthritis, and easing depression symptoms, but it also benefits our eyes. Whether you are completely healthy or have a history of eye disease, exercise has been shown to prevent some of the most common eye diseases.


Connection between Eye Health and Exercise

Just like the rest of your body, your eyes rely on a healthy diet and active lifestyle to maintain their own health. One of the basic links between eye health and exercise is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the critical factor in ocular disease because it causes the kind of damage that we see as a person ages. This kind of stress describes an imbalance in the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to handle them. Free radicals are the reason our bodies age. 

Studies have shown that exercise — like regularly using a treadmill — has the power to reduce the risk of ocular disease and associated problems through reducing free radicals and oxidative damage. This is great news for those with age-related retinal diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Various forms of cardio especially seems to help prevent eye disease. While other lifestyle changes can also greatly affect your eye health, exercise offers a great many protective factors for your vision.


Diabetic Retinopathy

Overall physical health can threaten your vision. Diabetes, for example, can cause blood vessels in the eyes to leak and swell. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. The shape of your lenses can also become distorted, resulting in blurry vision and other forms of diabetic eye disease. Exercise is one of the most important ways to prevent diabetes and minimize its effects on the body. Talk to your eye doctor about how exercise could help prevent diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.



High-intensity cardio has been linked to preventing glaucoma. This common eye disease is caused by fluid pressure buildup in the eye, resulting in blindness. It is the leading cause of blindness in the world. Unfortunately, there is no treatment, but those who exercise have a 73% lower risk of developing glaucoma.

The higher-intensity cardio, the better, some studies point out. However, if you have glaucoma, stick to low-intensity exercise recommended by the Glaucoma Research Foundation like speed walking or aerobics to avoid aggravating the high fluid pressure. Any type of exercise that results in your head lower than the rest of your body, like certain yoga poses, can increase the pressure as well.



In the same ways as glaucoma, exercise is an important part of preventing cataracts. Moderate walking has been shown to aid in preventing or slowing down developing cataracts. This disease affects almost everyone by the time they are eighty, resulting in low vision to total blindness. Cataracts are caused by protein buildup and there is no cure, though it can be moderately treated through diet. The best way to treat cataracts is prevention. A healthy diet is recommended, but a link has been shown between walking and running and a lowered cataract risk.


Age-related degeneration

Ocular diseases as a whole tend to respond positively to exercise. Your risk of age-related macular degeneration is increased by obesity and other health problems that are often remedied through exercise. Active living promotes healthy cells. This includes stronger, healthier, and younger cells in your eyes.


Our bodies are not designed to be sedentary. The next time you don’t feel like hitting the gym or taking a nice, long walk, remember that every part of your body benefits — even if you can’t tell the difference in your waistline. If you already have an ocular disease like any mentioned above, contact your optician to discuss proper forms of exercise. There are ways to preserve your vision no matter what your season of life. Additionally, our team would like to remind you to keep up with your yearly eye-health appointments. This is the best way to assess your eye health and make appropriate life decisions.

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