Currently exercise seems to be the answer to everything, with the ability to cure just about anything. In fact, this month a study published in ‘The Journal of Neuroscience’ claims moderate exercise has the potential to preserve our eyesight by slowing the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD occurs when photoreceptors (light sensing nerve cells) in the retina die. The macular is an oval shaped yellow spot situated in the centre of the eye’s retina. AMD is the leading cause of visual impairment, affecting 500,000 people in the UK. The degree of visual impairment varies from person to person. AMD is more common in women than men for unknown reasons. It is also more likely to occur in Caucasian and Chinese ethnicities.
The new research comes from the Atlanta VA Centre for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabillitation and Emory University. The study used mice to assess the effect of exercise on retinal degeneration. The mice ran on treadmills for an hour a day for 5 days over a 2 week period. They were then exposed to bright toxic light (a model used to replicate retinal degeneration) before running for another 2 weeks.
The study’s findings suggested moderate aerobic exercise preserved photoreceptors (nerve endings/cells that sense or receive light) in the retinas of the eyes. One of the study leaders Machelle Pardue PhD stated that this research provides a “first report of simple exercise having a direct effect on retinol health and vision”.
The research is highly important as it “may one day lead to tailored exercise regimens or combination therapies in treatments of blindness”. For now it could mean “people who are at risk of macular degeneration or have early signs of the disease may be able to slow down the progression of vision impairment” says Pardue.
Well I don’t know about you, but we are on our way to gym to hit the treadmill.