It’s the 2nd leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world - “it” being glaucoma. Glaucoma develops when the optic nerve in your eyes is progressively damaged, often due to excessive pressure caused by excess amounts of fluid buildup. This damage can lead to vision loss, starting with peripherals, and eventually affecting the rest of our eyes.
In the United States, it’s estimated that roughly three million people have glaucoma - but about half of them don’t realize they have the disease because of the lack of early symptoms. So how can one be proactive and reduce their risk of glaucoma?
While there is no surefire way to avoid glaucoma, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing it. Specifically:
- Eating a diet rich in vegetables. Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens is not only good for overall health and well-being, but these foods are also beneficial to our eyes. Fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, which benefit our vision health. Foods rich in vitamins A and C - such as cabbage, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, celery, carrots, peaches, radishes, green beans, and beets - have also been shown to boost our eye health and aid in reducing the risk of glaucoma. (Click here to take a look at some other fruits and vegetables that keep our eyes healthy.)
- Eating a balanced diet with vision-supportive vitamins and minerals. Many nutrients that help prevent glaucoma can be found in other parts of a balanced diet. As previously mentioned, vitamin A and vitamin C are beneficial to our eyes, but vitamin E has also been shown to boost vision. Vitamin E can be found in wheat and cereal, seafood, avocados, nuts, egg yolks, and more. Zinc, Lutein and Zeaxanthin are also great for your eyes and can reduce your risk of glaucoma. However, it’s important to remember that too much of a good thing can actually have a negative impact on your body. We’ve written about whether or not supplements can be beneficial in the past, and our advice then stands here as well!
- Knowing your family's eye health history. If a relative has glaucoma, you’re more likely to develop it yourself. Always mention your family history to an eye doctor to ensure that you’re getting the eye screenings you need to catch glaucoma early on. Doctors may also prescribe eye drops to help protect your eyes from pressure-related damage to help keep glaucoma symptoms at bay.
- Exercising (safely). Regular, moderate exercise may not just help keep your body in healthy shape - it may also help prevent glaucoma by reducing eye pressure. Depending on your age and health, however, you may need to take precautions before exercising - there’s no reason to put an unhealthy strain on your heart, joints, or another problem area. That’s why working with a doctor to develop an exercise routine specifically tailored to your limitations is recommended to help reduce the risk of glaucoma.
It’s important to remember that while good food, exercise, and even prescription eye drops can reduce the risk of glaucoma, they aren’t the cure or a guaranteed way to prevent glaucoma. Working with an eye doctor is the only way you can detect possible problems and keep them at bay, as early problems or risk factors can only be detected through regular eye exams. This is why checking up on your eye health is crucial, particularly if you have concerns about glaucoma or other serious eye conditions.
Addressing and diagnosing any issues with glaucoma, or starting treatment options early, will save many patients a lot of stress before symptoms become worse. Everett and Hurite’s staff can assist you with questions and any other eye concerns you may have. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!