Small Study Indicates Aerobic Exercise May Treat Dry Eye Disease

Aerobic exercise and the length of it may improve tear function, reports a study in Experimental Eye Research.1

Specifically, after athletes and non-athletes used a treadmill and followed the laid down Bruce treadmill test protocol until they were exhausted, the athletes had a significant improvement in tear secretion, with the basal tear secretion increasing from 22.3 ± 2.5 mm to 25.8 ± 1.7 mm (p < 0.001), as well as an increase in TBUT (17.7 ± 2.7 s). Meanwhile, the non-athletes’ tear secretion had a borderline increase from 21.42 ± 2.85 mm to 23.73 ± 2.68 mm (p = 0.08) and a slight increase in TBUT (14.8 ± 2.9 s). Additionally, exercise duration had a borderline effect on tear film stability. The sex of the participants had no effect on the differences in the tear function measures among the athletes and non-athletes after exercise.
The study was comprised of university athlete (male/female: 13/13) and non-athlete (male/female: 17/9) students between the ages of 18 and 25. The researchers obtained measurements of non-invasive TBUT and the phenol red thread test at baseline and post exercise. Additionally, within- and between-subject assessment employing several t-tests to correct for multiple comparisons were performed to determine differences prior to and post exercise in each of the groups. Of note: Prior to the exercise regimen, the athletes had higher TBUT than non-athletes (14.6 ± 2.9 s vs. 11.9 ± 3.8 s; p = 0.021), but no difference was seen in any other ocular measurements. CP
1. Abokyi S, Mensah SN, Otchere H, Akoto YO, Ntodie M. Differential effect of maximal incremental treadmill exercise on tear secretion and tear film stability in athletes and non-athletes. 2022;214:108865. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2021.108865. Epub 2021 Nov 27.