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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 October 2006, 11:29 GMT
Exercise 'cuts eye disease risk'
Eye
AMD is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK
Regular exercise could reduce the risk of an age-related eye disease, US research has suggested.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin followed almost 4,000 men and women over 15 years, carrying out eye tests and recording levels of exercise.

They found those with an active lifestyle were 70% less likely to develop the degenerative eye disease than those with a sedentary lifestyle.

The study is published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition which causes light sensitive cells at the back of the eye to stop working.

Eye tests

It is the leading cause of severe vision loss in the over-50s in the developed world and affects central vision, needed for driving.

The study of people aged between 43 and 86 began in 1988 and they were assessed every five years.

The focus was on their exercise habits and eye health rather than being a scientific study of eye cells.

The researchers found one in four had an active lifestyle and nearly one in four climbed more than six flights of stairs a day.

After taking into account other risk factors such as weight, blood fat levels and age, active participants were 70% less likely to develop AMD than those who did little exercise.

It also showed regular walkers were 30% less likely to get the disease.

Authors of the report did warn however that diet may also explain the findings.

Barbara McLaughlan, eye health consultant for the Royal National Institute of the Blind, said the research appeared to confirm that the benefits of a healthy lifestyle extended to the eyes.

She added people should still have regular eye tests, as there is a strong genetic element to AMD making early detection as important as prevention.


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