Glaucoma? That’s no excuse to skip your work out

People who suffer from vision-impairing glaucoma can exercise without fear of making the condition worse, according to a new study.

Glaucoma arises from abnormally high fluid pressure within the eyes, a situation that can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. It’s possible that by increasing pressure in the eyes, regular aerobic exercise could contribute to the progression of glaucoma.

“As an increasing number of people are becoming active in aerobic physical exercise such as jogging and bicycling, it would be interesting to identify any limitations or precautions, concerning the effect of exercise on intraocular pressure,” Dr. Irene Asouhidou, of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and colleagues note.

To do this, they examined how pressure in the eyes is affected in athletes, non-athletes, and glaucoma patients who perform aerobic exercise with or without the use of various eye drops used to treat glaucoma. The study included 100 healthy subjects and 45 glaucoma patients.

Mirroring some prior studies, a significant decrease in intraocular pressure was observed after exercise.

Moderate aerobic exercise reduced the eye pressure of both healthy subjects and glaucoma patients using anti-glaucoma eye drops.

“Regular moderate aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, bicycle, etc.) has been proven beneficial and should be encouraged for glaucoma patients,” Asouhidou told Reuters Health in an email interview.

“The next step of our research is to identify how other types of exercise affect the intraocular pressure, especially in patients who are under medication for glaucoma.”

SOURCE: BMC Ophthalmology, online August 13, 2009.

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