The benefits of exercise to your body’s health can not be understated.  Studies have shown that regular exercise may lower the intraocular pressure (IOP) in glaucoma patients.  The exercise need not be rigorous to have a positive effect, in fact walking every other day for 20 minutes can be beneficial.  Regular exercise also positively affects other glaucoma risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure.  Thus, a positive cascade of events occurs with regular exercise that not only improves wellbeing but also can improve eye health.   

Recent evidence indicates that regular exercise can reduce eye pressure.  Patient with high eye pressure and sedentary lifestyles were started on an exercise program.  Stationary cycling was implemented for 40 minutes, four times a week.  Improvements in eye pressure (about a 20% reduction) and physical conditioning were seen at three months.  These improvements in eye pressure could be maintained with exercise continuing at three times a week but were lost if exercise was stopped for more than two weeks.  

Exercise Equals Prevention 

As we all know, exercise does the body good.  Exercise can be prescribed for the treatment of a number of health ailments such as depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.  Indirectly, regular exercise can decrease risk factors that lead to glaucoma and may be useful in preventing the loss of sight from glaucoma. 

Those seeking to implement an exercise routine should do with the consultation of their doctor.  Your doctor can point you in the right direction in terms of what type of exercises are recommend and the level and intensity of what would be most beneficial to your health.  As far as your eyes are concerned, certain forms of glaucoma (such closed angle glaucoma) are not positively affected by the benefits of exercise.  Other types of glaucomas, such as pigmentary glaucoma, may actually cause a temporary rise in the IOP after strenuous exercise.

Please remember, only your eye doctor can determine the effects of exercise on your eyes.  Lastly, please remember, that glaucoma can only be controlled and never “goes away”.  Exercise does not replace your glaucoma treatment plan.