• Physical Activity Slows VF Loss in Patients With Glaucoma

    By Lynda Seminara
    Selected By: Stephen D. McLeod, MD

    Journal Highlights

    Ophthalmology, July 2019

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    Growing evidence suggests that physical activity may protect against visual field (VF) damage. Lee et al. looked at the relationship between glaucoma-related VF loss and various levels of physical activity. They found that greater phys­ical activity correlated with slower loss of vision.

    This longitudinal observation study included 141 adults (mean age, 65 years) with confirmed or suspected glaucoma. Participants wore an accelerometer for one week to determine steps per day and the time spent being active. To measure the rates of VF loss, the authors analyzed all available VF data. The main outcome measure was the pointwise change in VF sensitivity associated with the various measures of physical activity.

    Among the study group, eye mean deviation (MD) at the time of assess­ment was -6.6 dB, and the average number of steps per day was 5,613 ± 3,158. The unadjusted average rate of VF loss, measured by pointwise VF sensitivity, was 0.36 dB per year. Multivariable models showed slower VF loss for patients who took more steps (+0.007 dB/year/1,000 daily steps; p < .001), who had a higher level of moderate-to-vigorous activity (+0.003 dB/year/10 more minutes of moder­ate-to-vigorous activity per day; p < .001), and who engaged in more nonsed­entary activity (+0.007 dB/year/30 more minutes of nonsedentary time per day; p = .005). Fac­tors linked to quicker VF loss included older age, nonwhite race, history of glaucoma surgery or cataract surgery, and moderate VF damage at baseline. Similar relationships between base­line accelerometer-measured physical activity and rates of VF loss were noted for extended time periods (i.e., within one, three, and five years of the activity assessment).

    This study showed that taking an extra 5,000 steps per day (2.6 hours of nonsedentary physical activity) decreased the average rate of VF loss by about 10%. Further research is needed to confirm this association. If proven true, it would mean that physical activity is a novel modifiable risk factor for preventing glaucoma-related ocular damage.

    The original article can be found here.