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Exercise is good for our optic nerve

news_Senior couple in the poolIt is a well established fact that exercise has enormous health benefits; protecting us against obesity, heart disease and some cancers . Now new research from CERA’s glaucoma team proves that exercise is also good for our optic nerve and may even reverse the effects of ageing.

Research Fellow Dr Vicki Chrysostomou found that older animals that underwent exercise regimes recovered faster from optic nerve damage compared to animals that were not exercised. “The recovery rate in the exercise group was similar to what you might see in much younger animals,” explained Dr Chrysostomou.

“Not only that, we also found an improved recovery rate in animals that were exercised after sustaining the injury. We now want to find out how this improved recovery actually happens, with the hope that this might lead us to new treatment targets down the track.”

“There is evidence that exercise protects nerve cells in the brain during ageing, after injury and in conditions such as Alzheimer’s, but this is the first study to show a positive effect on the optic nerve and vision,” said Dr Chrysostomou.

The most common optic nerve disease, glaucoma affects approximately 300,000 Australians and causes irreversible blindness if not detected and treated early. Current treatment options – including eye drops, laser and surgery – focus of lowering intraocular pressure and reducing the pressure on the optic nerve. Despite these treatment options, some patients’ vision will still deteriorate so researchers are keen to discover other methods for protecting the optic nerve.

The study was published in the Neurobiology of Aging journal in early 2014.