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Physical Activity and Risk of Cataracts

It is important to identify protective factors as well as risk factors for cataracts because cataract surgery is the only treatment for cataracts. Cataracts are a medical condition resulting in clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye, which results in blurred vision. From Medscape:

Physical Activity May Reduce Cataract Risk

High levels of total and long-term physical activity, as well as specific types of physical activity, may decrease the risk for age-related cataract later in life, researchers report in an article published in the February issue of Ophthalmology. Of 52,660 men and women 45 to 83 years of age who completed questionnaires to assess physical activity as part of two large population-based cohorts, 11,580 developed age-related cataract during a 12-year follow-up period...

Participants with the highest quartile of physical activity had a 13% decreased risk of developing cataracts relative to those with the lowest levels of physical activity, after adjustments for multiple factors including fruit and vegetable intake, antioxidant supplement use, and alcohol intake ...In addition, increased amounts of long-term total physical activity both at 30 years of age and at the beginning of the study (mean age, 59.4 years) decreased the risk for cataract by 24% compared with low levels of activity, according to the researchers .

When the investigators looked at specific activities, they found that walking or bicycling 60 minutes per day or more decreased the risk for cataract by 12% compared with hardly ever walking or bicycling, and work or occupational activity requiring heavy manual labor decreased the risk for cataract by 16% compared with mostly sedentary occupations. Compared with individuals reporting less than 1 hour of leisure time inactivity per day, those who were physically inactive for 6 or more hours of leisure time daily were 27% more likely to develop age-related cataract, they write.

"Our results on different types of physical activity suggest that being physically active on a regular daily basis may contribute to decreased risk of cataract, rather than short weekly episodes of exercising/training," Selin explained in an interview with Medscape Medical News.

Keep in mind that statin use is linked to increased risk of cataracts. From Science Daily:

New study strengthens evidence of connection between statin use and cataracts; any risks should be weighed against benefits