A Japanese study recently demonstrated the importance of physical activity as one way to prevent and manage dry eye disease (DED). The researchers found that higher total physical activity was associated with a significantly lower prevalence of DED in both sexes, even after adjusting for time spent using digital devices. In contrast, prolonged sitting and display use were related to increased prevalence of DED.

The study documented 25,234 (8,315 males and 16,919 females) cases of DED from a large nationwide prospective Japanese cohort study. It used lifestyle data, medical profiles and validated self-reported physical activity questionnaires to investigate the relationship of total and leisure-time physical activity, duration of sedentary behaviors and time spent on digital devices with DED.

Total physical activity was significantly related to decreased DED for both men and women. The researchers note that the favorable effect of total physical activity on decreased DED in women was more prevalent with prolonged device use (≥2 hours/day). In men, the duration of device use or sitting was a significant modifier of the inverse relationship between leisure-time physical activity and DED.

The researchers admit that some people might have exercised while using devices with screens, which might have caused an underestimation of physical activity’s impact on DED. Nevertheless, they hope their data helps characterize the contribution of lifestyle to DED susceptibility and possibly support the hypothesis that DED is, in part, a lifestyle-related disease.

Hanyuda A, Sawada N, Uchnio M, et al. Physical inactivity, prolonged sedentary behaviors, and use of visual display terminals as potential risk factors for dry eye disease: JPHC-NEXT study. Ocul Surf. September 26, 2019. [Epub ahead of print]. 1.