Exercise and Reducing the Risk of Glaucoma

Risk factors for glaucoma typically include age, family history and high intraocular pressure (IOP). A new report indicates that a lack of exercise may also put people at risk for the disease. Additionally, the study, which analyzed thousands of runners, found that the faster the runner the more the risk of glaucoma decreased.

The recent study examined approximately 30,000 male runners and found 200 glaucoma cases. As expected, these cases were slightly older than the runners not diagnosed with glaucoma yet other findings were of particular interest. These findings concluded that every meter-per-second increment corresponded to a 36.7% reduction in the risk of incident glaucoma. Specifically, the study showed;

  • Risk for incident glaucoma decreased 29% in men who ran 3.6 to 4.0 meters per second
  • Risk decreased 54% for those who ran 4.1 to 4.5 meters per second
  • Risk declined 51% for those who ran 4.6 to 5.0 meters per second
  • There was virtually no risk of incident glaucoma among men who ran faster than 5 meters per second
  • Longer running distances correlated with a lower risk of incident glaucoma

Some of the risk reduction could have risen from the leanness of the runners. However, previous studies have shown that running can acutely decrease IOP in proportion to its intensity. Several other studies have even suggested that IOP can be reduced chronically through exercise

During the natural aging process there is an increase in ocular pressure and running a marathon is not a guarantee against glaucoma. Instead, focus on good nutrition, regular exercise, and an overall approach to good health.

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