The Connection Between Exercise And Worsening Vision Due To Diabetic Retinopathy

Posted on: 26 September 2016

Fighting off vision problems is something that we all want to do, but it can be difficult for those with diabetes. They often go blind due to a problem called diabetic retinopathy. Unfortunately, a large number of those who suffer from diabetes don't realize that an exercise routine, which may have been created to help their vision, may be speeding up this process.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

This condition is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye, caused by nutrients struggling to make it through your system properly. It can happen in those with type one or two diabetes and is most common in those who don't control their sugar very well. Eyesight will decrease to the point of blindness if left unchecked.

However, there's also a chance that those who are performing certain kinds of exercises regularly may be speeding up the process. This may be hard to believe (as exercise is so often touted as endlessly healthy), but it's something that anyone with vision problems who also has diabetes needs to understand.

How Can Exercise Worsen It?

When you perform exercises that increase your blood pressure, you are putting an extra strain on the blood vessels in your body. This applies to the blood vessels in your eyes as much as the rest in your body. Although the extra blood pressure isn't permanent or irreversible, it will cause a strain.

Exercises that involve bending forward excessively (like yoga or weight lifting) also cause an increase of blood flow to your head, which can increase your risk of diabetic retinopathy. Again, the risk increase is only slight, but it is enough that it could speed the spread of blindness.

What Kind Of Exercises Are Safest?

Just about any kind of exercise will temporarily raise your blood pressure, unfortunately, but aerobic exercise is your best bet because increased cardiovascular health can help to gradually decrease blood pressure. Anaerobic exercise, such as weightlifting, forces you to hold your breath and makes your heart work harder without increasing your cardiovascular health.

Try light walking or jogging if you want to exercise. Getting more physically fit will decrease your blood pressure, help balance your blood sugar, and prevent your eyesight from deteriorating due to this condition. As little as 30 minutes of exercise a day has been shown to help keep decrease not only the risk of diabetic retinopathy but age-related macular degeneration and even glaucoma.

For more information, contact All About Eyes or a similar location.