Exercise to prevent vision loss

Dr. Paul Williams from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has published 2 studies on the effects of exercise on cataracts (here) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (here).

First, the details.

  • Data were collected in the National Runners’ Health Study, which Dr. Williams established in 1991 to determine the health benefits of running.

And the results.


  • Men who ran more than 5.7 miles each day had a 35% lower risk of developing cataracts vs men who ran less than 1.4 miles per day.
  • The fittest men (10-kilometer races) had one-half the risk of developing cataracts vs the least-fit men.


  • Compared to people who ran less than 1.2 miles per day, people who averaged between 1.2 and 2.4 miles per day had a 19% lower risk for AMD.
  • People who ran more than 2.4 miles per day had between 42% and 54% lower risk of the disease.

The bottom line?
Most of the runners in the study exceeded the current public health recommendations for physical activity, which is at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activities such as brisk walking 5 days a week, or smaller doses of more vigorous exercise such as running.

It’s unclear whether people might also lower their risk for cataracts and AMD by walking.

2/15/09 21:19 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.