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Daily exercise may provide relief for dry, itchy eyes, says research

A team led by researchers at the University of Waterloo has made some interesting discoveries about how to make exercise It is beneficial for several reasons, including a healthy heart, keeping diabetes at bay, and protecting against obesity.

They found that a significant increase in tear secretion and tear film stability after participating in aerobic exercise may be another remedy for relieving dry and itchy eyes. Their study, ‘Differential effect of maximal incremental treadmill exercise on tear secretion and tear film stability in athletes and non-athletes’, was published in the journal Experimental Eye Research.

The study was co-authored by Otchere, Samuel Abokyi, Sekyere Nyamaah and Michael Ntodie of the University of Cape Coast, and Yaw Osei Akoto of Our Lady of Grace Hospital in Ghana.

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Every time we blink, our eyes are covered in a tear film, an essential protective layer needed to maintain healthy eye function. The healthy tear film consists of three layers (oil, water, and mucin) that work together to moisturize the ocular surface and protect against infection-causing irritants such as dust or dirt.

When any part of the tear film becomes unstable, the ocular surface can develop dry patches, causing eye symptoms such as itching or a stinging and burning sensation.

“With so much of our activity tied to screen use, dry eye symptoms are becoming more common,” said Heinz Otchere, a doctoral candidate in vision science at Waterloo. “Instead of having to use eye drops or other alternative treatments, our study aimed to determine whether staying physically active can be an effective preventative measure against dryness.”

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Fifty-two participants were divided into two groups, athletes and non-athletes, 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. The researchers, who included experts from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, conducted 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 greatest increase, Otchere says that all participants experienced a significant increase in tear quantity and tear film stability after the exercise session.

“It can be a challenge for people to exercise regularly when there is a demand to work more and more hours in front of screens,” Otchere said. “However, our findings show that physical activity can be really important not only for our general well-being, but also for our eye health.”

This story has been published from a news agency source with no changes to the text. Only the headline has been changed.


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