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Physical activity can protect our eyes as we age


 Dr. Machelle Pardue studied the effect of exercise on retinal health. <em>(Photo by Adam Hernandez)</em>
Dr. Machelle Pardue studied the effect of exercise on retinal health. (Photo by Adam Hernandez)

Dr. Machelle Pardue studied the effect of exercise on retinal health. (Photo by Adam Hernandez)

Physical activity can protect our eyes as we age, according to a study by researchers at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and Emory University. The researchers ran mice on a treadmill for two weeks before and after exposing the animals to bright light, similar to full daylight, that causes retinal degeneration.

The researchers found that treadmill training preserved photoreceptors and retinal cell function in the mice. The exercised animals lost only half the number of photoreceptor cells as animals that spent the equivalent amount of time on a stationary treadmill.

According to Dr. Machelle T. Pardue, a VA researcher who was a member of the study team: "This is the first report of simple exercise having a direct effect on retinal health in vision. This research may one day lead to tailored exercise regimens or combination therapies in treatments of blinding diseases." The results of the study were published in the Journal of Neuroscience in February 2014, and were reported on in the New York Times, among other publications.


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