Got dry, itchy eyes?
Working out might help, a new study suggests.
“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,” said study co-author Heinz Otchere. He is a doctoral candidate in vision science at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
The small study divided 52 participants into two groups — athletes and non-athletes. The athletes exercised on a treadmill at least five times a week, while non-athletes did so no more than once a week.
The researchers assessed the moisture level of participants’ eyes before and five minutes after each workout.
While the athletes had the greatest increases in tear quality and tear film stability after their workouts, the non-athletes also saw a significant increase, the findings showed.
The report was published in the January issue of the journal Experimental Eye Research.
With so much of people’s time spent looking at screens, dry eye symptoms are on the rise, Otchere said in a university news release.
“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.”
Every time you blink, your eyes get covered in tear film, a protective coating that’s crucial for maintaining healthy eye function. Healthy tear film is made of three layers — oil, water and proteins called mucin — that work together to hydrate the eye surface and protect against irritants like dust or dirt.
When any part of the tear film becomes unstable, the eye surface can develop dry spots, causing symptoms like itchiness or stinging and burning sensations.
For more on dry eye, go to the U.S. National Eye Institute.
SOURCE: University of Waterloo, news release, Feb. 3, 2022