[tabi] exercise may protect against vision loss

  • From: "Chip and Allie Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2014 12:31:42 -0400

Below is an article I received in a health-related news letter:








Aerobic Exercise Protects Eyes from Macular Degeneration and Other Retina 





Even for people with healthy eyes, protecting eyesight should be a primary 

concern. That's because as we age, we are increasingly vulnerable to 

degenerative eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

diseases can strike anyone...are very tough to treat...and can lead to

impaired vision, or even blindness, sometimes with horrifying speed.


Good news: A recent study suggests a simple (and even enjoyable) way to help

protect against AMD and other retinal problems. It's something that your eye

doctor probably won't think to mention...but it might do your eyes a world

good by directly benefiting your retinas.


This new study used healthy mice. Some of the mice were given treadmills and

trained to exercise for one hour, five days each week, at a moderate pace.

comparison's sake, other mice had identical living conditions-except that

treadmills did not move, so they were mostly inactive. After two weeks, the

were intentionally exposed to a bright light for four hours. The light

was intended to damage the light-sensing photoreceptors of the retina in a

that's similar to the retinal neuron degeneration that occurs in humans who

AMD or a less common condition called retinitis pigmentosa.


Next, the mice were put back on the same exercise program (or lack thereof)

two more weeks. Halfway through and at the end of that time period, the 

researchers did some tests. What they discovered...


After being exposed to the damaging bright light, the mice that had

showed two times greater retinal function, based on measurements of

activity of the retina, compared with the inactive mice.



Examination of the retinas showed that, even though numerous photoreceptors

indeed been damaged by the bright light exposure, the mice that exercised

more than twice as many healthy photoreceptors as the inactive mice.


The fact that the test results remained consistent two weeks after the

to the damaging light suggests that exercise's beneficial effects have some 

power to persist...and may help slow the progression of vision-destroying 

degenerative retinal diseases.




What could account for such dramatic vision benefits from exercise? Part of

answer may come from another portion of the experiment that involved

the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein involved

nerve growth. In a different set of mice, some exercised for nine days and

others did not. Then researchers tested BDNF levels in the retinas, brains

blood of the mice-and found that, in all three areas, the active mice had 

significantly higher levels of BDNF than the inactive mice.


There's no known cure for AMD...and the treatments that can help slow its 

progress are anxiety-provoking and uncomfortable, involving injections of

directly into the eyes. Compared to that, aerobic exercise seems like a 

pleasurable walk in the park-quite literally!


Get motivated, get moving: This study makes a strong case that aerobic

directly benefits the retina and plays a significant role in protecting 

photoreceptors. Of course, an animal study can't prove that what's good for 

mouse eyes also is good for human eyes, particularly after just two weeks of

regular aerobic exercise...but it certainly could be true. Besides, we do

beyond a shadow of a doubt that aerobic exercise is highly beneficial to 

people's bodies and brains. If you care about protecting your eyesight (and

doesn't?), let this study serve as yet one more excellent reason to add some

aerobic exercise to your day-to-day routine (with your primary-care

OK)-whether or not your eye doctor thinks to recommend it.


Sources: Machelle T. Pardue, PhD, associate professor, and Jeffrey H.

PhD, professor, department of ophthalmology, Emory University School of 

Medicine, and the Atlanta VA Center for Visual and Neurocognitive 

Rehabilitation, both in Atlanta. Their study was published in The Journal of



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