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Exercise shown to provide dry eye relief – study

dry eye exercise

An international research group has discovered a significant increase in tear secretion and tear film stability after participating in aerobic exercise can be another remedy for relieving dry eyes.

In a recent study published in Experimental Eye Research, a team led by researchers from the University of Waterloo divided 52 participants into two groups – athlete and non-athlete – to participate in an exercise session.

Participants in the athlete group exercised at least five times per week, while non-athlete participants exercised no more than once per week. Researchers, which also included experts from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, performed visual examinations before and five minutes after each exercise session, where tear secretion and tear break-up time were assessed.

While participants in the athlete group showed the largest increase, Mr Heinz Otchere, a PhD candidate in vision science at Waterloo, said all participants experienced a meaningful boost in tear quantity and tear film stability after the exercise session.

“It can be challenging for people to regularly exercise when the demand is there to work increasingly longer hours in front of screens,” he 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 researchers stated that a healthy tear film comprises three layers; oil, water, and mucin, which work together to hydrate the ocular surface and protect against infection-causing irritants like dust or dirt.

When any part of the tear film becomes unstable, the ocular surface can develop dry spots, causing eye symptoms like itchiness or stinging and burning sensations.

“With so much of our activity tied to screen usage, dry eye symptoms are becoming increasingly common,” Otchere said.

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 study, Differential effect of maximal incremental treadmill exercise on tear secretion and tear film stability in athletes and non-athletes, was co-authored by Otchere, along with optometrists from the University of Cape Coast Mr Samuel Abokyi, Mr Sekyere Nyamaah, and Mr Michael Ntodie, and Ghana’s Our Lady of Grace Hospital’s optometrist Mr Yaw Osei Akoto.

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