Exercise Might Help Relieve ‘Dry Eye’

Do you have dry and 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 whether staying 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. Athletes exercised on a treadmill at least five times a week, while non-athletes exercised no more than once a week.

The researchers assessed the moisture level of the participants’ eyes before and five minutes after each workout.

While athletes had the greatest increases in tear quality and tear film stability after their workouts, 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 people spending so much time looking at screens, dry eye symptoms are on the rise, Otchere said in a university news release.

“It can be challenging for people to exercise regularly when there is a demand to work longer and longer hours in front of screens,” he 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.”

Every time you blink, your eyes are covered with a tear film, a protective layer that is crucial for maintaining healthy eye function. The healthy tear film is made up of three layers—oil, water, and proteins called mucin—that work together to moisturize the eye’s surface and protect against irritants like dust and dirt.

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

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