Methods: The correlation between accelerometer-measured physical activity and rates of macular ganglion cell–inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) thinning was measured in 735 eyes from 388 participants of the Progression Risk of Glaucoma: RElevant SNPs with Significant Association (PROGRESSA) study. The association between accelerometer-measured physical activity and cross-sectional SD-OCT macular thickness was then assessed in 8862 eyes from 6152 participants available for analysis in the UK Biobank who had SD-OCT, ophthalmic, comorbidity, and demographic data.
Results: Greater physical activity was associated with slower rates of macular GCIPL thinning in the PROGRESSA study (beta = 0.07 µm/y/SD; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.03–0.13; P = 0.003) after adjustment for ophthalmic, demographic and systemic predictors of macular thinning. This association persisted in subanalyses of participants characterized as glaucoma suspects (beta = 0.09 µm/y/SD; 95% CI, 0.03–0.15; P = 0.005). Participants in the upper tertile (greater than 10,524 steps/d) exhibited a 0.22-µm/y slower rate of macular GCIPL thinning than participants in the lower tertile (fewer than 6925 steps/d): −0.40 ± 0.46 µm/y versus −0.62 ± 0.55 µm/y (P = 0.003). Both time spent doing moderate/vigorous activity and mean daily active calories were positively correlated with rate of macular GCIPL thinning (moderate/vigorous activity: beta = 0.06 µm/y/SD; 95% CI, 0.01–0.105; P = 0.018; active calories: beta = 0.06 µm/y/SD; 95% CI, 0.006–0.114; P = 0.032). Analysis among 8862 eyes from the UK Biobank revealed a positive association between physical activity and cross-sectional total macular thickness (beta = 0.8 µm/SD; 95% CI, 0.47–1.14; P < 0.001).
Conclusions: These results highlight the potential neuroprotective benefits of exercise on the human retina.
- physical activity
- optical coherence tomography