Cataracts and AMD may be prevented by exercise, according to study

February 18, 2009

Vigorous exercise may help prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, according to a new study.

Washington, DC-Vigorous exercise may help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, according to a new study.

In one group of data from almost 8 years of follow-up from the National Runners’ Health Study, 110 men and 42 women received a clinical diagnosis of AMD during follow-up. The higher the frequency of running, the less risk participants had for developing AMD.

On average, running 2 to 4 km (1.2 to 2.5 miles) a day reduced the risk by 19% and running more than 4 km a day reduced the risk by 42% to 54%, compared with those who ran less than 2 km a day.

In the same group, a study examining the effects of running on developing cataracts, 733 men and 179 women reported having cataracts during the follow-up. Running 64 or more km (40 miles) a week lowered the risk by 35%, compared with those who ran less than 16 km (10 miles) per week. Those with better cardiovascular fitness were also at less risk than men who were less fit.

It is not fully known why a link exists between fitness and preventing these conditions, however, study author Paul T. Williams, a staff scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said that exercise could provide similar protective benefits for the eyes as it does for the heart and other systems.