Regular exercise found to help fight off dry and itchy eyes
While we know exercise can benefit our wellbeing in all sorts of ways, improved ocular health is probably not something most would associate with a bout of physical activity. A new study has uncovered some useful new insights in this space, suggesting that regular exercise can promote hydration and help ward off dry and itchy eyes.
The research was led by scientists at Canada's University of Waterloo and focuses on what's known as tear film, the protective layer that stops dust, dirt and other irritants from contacting the eyeball. A fresh coating of this film is layered over the eye each time we blink, acting as a critical protective measure against itchiness, stinging, dry eyes and infection.
“With so much of our activity tied to screen usage, dry eye symptoms are becoming increasingly common,” said Heinz Otchere, a PhD candidate in vision science at the University of Waterloo. “Instead of having to use eye drops or other alternative treatments, our study aimed to determine if remaining physically active can be an effective preventative measure against dryness.”
The scientists enlisted 52 participants and divided them into either an "athlete" or a "non-athlete" group, with the former made to exercise at least five times a week and the non-athlete group a maximum of one. The scientists then performed visual assessments of their eyes both before and five minutes after each session.
This revealed that all participants enjoyed improvements in the formation and stability of tear films following each exercise session, and physical fitness and duration of exercise was a factor in their response. However, the "athlete" group were found to have a "much appreciable improvement" compared to the non-athlete group.
“It can be challenging for people to regularly exercise when the demand is there to work increasingly longer hours in front of screens,” Otchere said. “However, our findings show physical activity can be really important for not just our overall well-being, but for our ocular health too.”
The research was published in the journal Experimental Eye Research.
Source: University of Waterloo