The research was published as a study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, and it featured new data on Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a condition causing light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye to stop working.
AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in the over-50 population in the developed world and affects central vision, a requirement for automobile driving. The research study grouped people aged between 43 and 86, and began in 1988. Participants in the study were assessed every five years for a total study period of 15 years.
The focus of the study centered in on the participants' exercise habits and eye health rather than being a scientific study of eye cells alone. The researchers found one in four of the participants had an active lifestyle, and nearly one in four climbed more than six flights of stairs a day.
The researchers took into account risk factors such as weight, blood fat levels and age. They then concluded that active participants were 70 percent less likely to develop AMD than those who engaged in little exercise.
The study also showed that regular walkers were 30 percent less likely to get AMD. However, the researchers and study authors did warn that diet may also explain the findings.
Barbara McLaughlan, eye health consultant for the Royal National Institute of the Blind, stated that the research appeared to confirm that the benefits of a healthy lifestyle did indeed extend to the eyes. Mc Laughlan added that people should still have regular eye tests -- as there are strong genetic elements to AMD, making early detection as important as prevention.