June 24, 2021

Exercise counteracts glaucoma. Or limit the damage


It is the second leading cause of blindness in the Western world, but one in two patients does not know they are: often glaucoma remains undiagnosed for a long time, so in the meantime the ocular damage progresses and over the years one in five cases leads to the loss of view. There is no definitive cure, however with prevention and early diagnosis it is possible to limit the visual consequences, as the experts pointed out during the recent congress of the Italian Association for the Study of Glaucoma (Aisg). Physical activity, for example, can reduce the risk of glaucoma: to stay healthy, moderate or fast walking is recommended 30-40 minutes a day, four times a week, and according to data collected by ophthalmologists, it is sufficient to increase this “dose »Ten minutes a day to reduce the likelihood of developing the disease by 25 percent.

Reduction of worsening

“Even in those who already suffer from glaucoma the progression rate is reduced by 10%, if daily physical exercise increases”, explains Luciano Quaranta, director of the University Eye Clinic of the San Matteo Hospital in Pavia. «The most suitable sports are swimming, running, cycling and tennis, aerobic activities that improve blood circulation in the eye; those who already have glaucoma should instead avoid too strenuous workouts, weight lifting and during training should not keep some positions in which the head is too down. Moving increases the oxygenation of the retina by strengthening its cells, and also counteracts the formation of free radicals in the central nervous system, of which the eye is part; exercise is also beneficial because it lowers blood pressure, both systemic and ocular ».

Risk factors

The main risk factor for glaucoma is in fact the high pressure inside the eye, which pushes on the optic nerve deteriorating it in a progressive and permanent way. As Stefano Miglior, president of AISG, points out, “Regular checks by the ophthalmologist are essential for a timely diagnosis: the over 60s are more affected, but glaucoma can appear even earlier and therefore visits are recommended every two years from the age of forty , especially in the case of myopia or familiarity with the disease (40% of patients have at least one close relative with glaucoma, ed). Often we do not realize that we have some vision problems and we arrive at the doctor when the situation is already compromised and the visual field reduced: a typical sign of advanced pathology is tubular vision, which gives the impression of looking through a cone ». If the ophthalmologist suspects glaucoma, the diagnosis is not complex: two simple non-invasive tests are enough, measuring the visual field and imaging the retinal nerve fibers and the optic disc, or the point where the optic nerve emerges at the bottom eye.

12 October 2020 (change October 12, 2020 | 19:21)

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