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Monday / April 15.
HomeminewsExercise Protects Against Blindness

Exercise Protects Against Blindness

An award winning research fellow at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) is hopeful that exercise may help protect people against blindness.

In a world-first study, Dr. Vicki Chrysostomou and her team aim to prove that exercise can hep to protect the optic nerve from injury.

“As we age, the function of our mitochondria, the part of the cells responsible for energy production, declines. This decline makes the optic nerve vulnerable to injuries that lead to glaucoma,” she said.

While their research indicated diet restriction can dramatically improve mitochondrial function and the health of the optic nerve, this strategy still has limitations.

The implications of this study are huge. Doctors regularly prescribe exercise to guard against heart disease and hypertension. One day, they may give the same advice to protect against eye disease.

“Exercise activates many of the same pathways as diet restriction including improved mitochondrial function. It also protects against a range of diseases. The effect it has on eye health, however, is unknown.”

To test the hypothesis, they are putting middle-aged mice through a vigorous swimming regime. The mitochondrial function of the mice will be tested before and after they are exercised. “Swimming is an ideal exercise for mice. They’re natural swimmers and usually don’t want to stop,” Dr. Chrysostomou said.

She expects that the mitochondria in the exercised mice will stand up against the aging process better than those of the non-exercised mice. “Exercise as a therapy is ideal. It’s cheap, it’s safe and it has all sorts of positive flow on effects.

“The implications of this study are huge. Doctors regularly prescribe exercise to guard against heart disease and hypertension. One day, they may give the same advice to protect against eye disease.”

Dr. Chrysostomou was recently awarded a grant by the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia and Glaucoma Australia Inc.