A group of Chinese and Australian researchers has reviewed several studies and concluded that regular physical activity lowers the risk of age-related cataract, one of the leading causes of blindness globally.
In the study, the researchers analyzed data from six studies that evaluated the role of exercise in lowering the risk of oxidative damage to the eye. Oxidative damage refers to destruction of tissues and cells caused by toxic by-products of the body’s metabolism, called free radicals.
The study authors found that a 10 percent lower risk of age-related cataract among those who engaged in regular exercise such as walking and cycling. The researchers link this outcome to the healthy changes exercise exerts on the body including increase activity of antioxidants, which are substances that mop up toxic chemicals that cause oxidative damage to tissues in the body. Furthermore, exercise increases the body’s content of healthy fat, which in turn improves the activity of antioxidants.
The researchers say eye lens is highly susceptible to oxidative damage, which results in age-related cataract. However, they found that for every hour of exercise per day, one can lower the risk of developing age-related cataract by two percent.