New research out of Pacific University Oregon suggests that regular aerobic exercise could significantly improve eye health. Specifically, researchers believe exercise could be used to naturally lower intraocular pressure (IOP), thereby reducing the risk of glaucoma.
This fascinating study was a part of Cody Tang and Rayne Houser’s senior capstone project. Both Tang and Houser graduated from Pacific University in 2018 with bachelor’s degrees in exercise science.
A total of 25 students from Pacific University took part in this research. First, scientists recorded each study participant’s IOP while resting. Researchers then took an IOP reading after participants spent a few minutes engaged in vigorous exercise.
Results from this study clearly showed a link between lowered IOP and exercise. Study authors note that more intense workout sessions produced the more dramatic results.
Both Tang and Houser plan to continue investigating this connection as they pursue higher degrees. Researchers are particularly interested in the long-term benefits of aerobic exercise for keeping IOP levels down.
Glaucoma is a common blinding eye disorder that occurs when too much pressure builds up in the eyes and causes damage to the retinae. About 6 million people around the world have some degree of glaucoma.
Although there’s no cure, there are many ways doctors can reduce symptoms if they catch glaucoma in its early stages. A few of the most common treatment options include IOP reducing eye drops, diet changes, and laser eye surgery. With this research in mind, of course, glaucoma patients should also consider adding exercise sessions into their weekly routines.
This research was first presented this February at the American College of Sports Medicine’s Northwest regional conference. Dr. Ryan Bulson, who teaches optometry at Pacific University and was involved in this project, will present a thorough analysis of this research at the American Academy of Optometry’s November gathering. Tang and Houser are now working on a formal research paper, which they hope to get published in the near future.