Can exercise impact your eyes?

Exercise and Your Eyes - Optometrist Odessa, FL

Can exercise impact your eyes?

Did you know that regular exercise may be beneficial to your eye health? Several studies have shown that people who are sedentary have a higher risk of developing eye problems. In a British study of more than 6,500 participants, people who self-reported fair or poor eyesight were twice as likely to be sedentary than those who self-reported excellent vision.[1]

Possible Links Between Eye Health and Exercise

A research review suggests that there are several possible trends related to eyesight and physical activity.[2] The first possibility is that people with poorer vision may not be as prone to exercise because of their limited ability to see. Another possibility is that people who are sedentary develop eye problems as a result of inactivity, and a third possibility is that both factors may exist.

Understanding How Inactivity May Affect Eyesight

Based on research, it appears that inactivity itself is not the direct cause of eye problems, but the problems from health conditions that people can develop from being inactive are often to blame. For example, consider the health condition of type 2 diabetes. People who are inactive are more likely to be overweight or obese, and being overweight is a top risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.[3] Also, diabetics often have high blood sugar. Having high blood sugar for a long time can lead to retina damage.

Diabetics are susceptible to several eye problems. Vision problems are common enough among people with diabetes that all the possible eye conditions are collectively called diabetic eye disease.[4] The conditions included in the diabetic eye disease category are diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, diabetic macular edema, and glaucoma.[4] Each of these conditions can become worse over time and may lead to vision loss. However, proper diabetic eye care may prevent or slow the progression of some conditions.

Another possible connection between inactivity and eye health is high blood pressure. People who are inactive are more likely to have muscular atrophy, reduced vascular function, hardened arteries, and hypertension.[5] When you have high blood pressure, it can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina.[6] As it is with managing diabetes, properly managing high blood pressure can slow or prevent damage. However, people whose blood pressure remains high for a long time are more likely to notice worsening eye damage.

The key idea to keep in mind is that inactivity is a risk factor for several serious health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Chronic health problems affect how the body functions, and that means that they can also negatively impact eyesight. Think of exercise as a way to help keep your eyes and the rest of your body healthier. However, activity is not a cure or a sure way to never experience eye problems. Healthy and active people can still develop eye problems due to genetics, accidents, or other factors, but physical activity is a good way to reduce multiple health risks.

Tips for Maintaining Eye Health

There are two key parts of a strategy for keeping your eyes as healthy as possible, and those are lifestyle and professional eye care. These are some important tips to keep in mind.


In addition to staying active, there are other tips that are important to combine with your activity plan to minimize health risks. These are some basic ways to develop an eye-healthy lifestyle:

  • Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at least two to three times per week.
  • Be sure to get enough sleep every night, and do not sleep with contacts.
  • Try to limit exposure to bright screens.
  • When you are out in the sun, wear sunglasses with polarized lenses.
  • Find healthy ways to reduce stress.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that meets your individual needs.

If you want to be proactive about your eye health, talk to your Odessa eye doctor to see what additional tips may help you. Be sure to discuss any physical activity regimen or plan with your family doctor before you start it. This helps ensure that it meets any limitations you may have based on your health history or existing conditions. When an exercise regimen is too strenuous, it can be harmful. Also, you can talk to a dietitian to help you develop an eye-healthy diet that meets all your individual health and diet needs. Diet planning is especially important if you plan to lose weight.

Eye Care

Proper eye care involves a comprehensive eye exam at least once each year. If you have a condition, or if your doctor finds something concerning that needs more monitoring, you may want to see an eye care provider more than once each year. However, an annual vision exam is a key part of your overall eye health. During an exam, an eye doctor can determine if you need corrective lenses or need to have existing corrective lenses strengthened.

An eye doctor can often notice early signs of type 2 diabetes and several other health problems during an eye exam, which is another great reason to see your eye care provider every year. Also, some conditions that can become worse over time can be caught and treated if you are diligent about yearly monitoring. For example, if the eye doctor notices that the pressure in an eye changes from one year to another, it could indicate early glaucoma development.

Schedule an Odessa Eye Doctor Appointment

Taking charge of your health to protect your eyes and the rest of your body requires work, but rest assured that we are here to encourage you and to help by handling your vision care needs. We understand that every person is different and has a unique health history, which is why we take the time to get to know each person we see. If you have questions about protecting your eye health in Florida or are ready to schedule an exam appointment with an Odessa eye doctor, please call us.