Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. It belongs to a group of eye diseases that lead to damaging the main vision nerve — the optic nerve. In the early stages of the disease, glaucoma has no symptoms at all. Often, it’s not until the disease is at an advanced stage that vision loss becomes evident, and by then your eyesight may have suffered irreversible damage.
For this reason, it’s important to take measures to protect your vision, even if you have normal eyesight. We’ll be discussing what you can do to prevent glaucoma in celebration of Glaucoma Awareness Month. But first, a bit of background on this common eye disease.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve. It causes progressive damage to the optic nerve and leads to a subtle loss of peripheral vision. If the disease is not diagnosed early, it can progress to permanently blurred or dimmed vision or even blindness.
What Causes Glaucoma?
No one knows the main cause of glaucoma. However, elevated eye pressure is the major risk factor for developing the disease. The increased eye pressure comes when the aqueous humor (the clear fluid in the eye) does not drain properly. The aqueous humor usually flows in and out of the eye through a tiny channel. If it does not drain properly, it causes pressure to build up in the eye, which often leads to glaucoma.
Who Is at High Risk for Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is common among people over age 40. You’re at high risk of developing the disease if you:
- Have diabetes
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Have had serious eye injuries in the past
5 Prevention Tips for Glaucoma
1. Regular Eye Exams
Currently, regular eye exams are the best way to prevent significant glaucoma damage. In general, a check for glaucoma should be done:
- Every four years before age 30
- Every three years between age 40 and 50
- Every two years between age 50 and 60
- Every six months after age 60
2. Benefits of Exercise
A regular exercise regimen will benefit your overall health. Even moderate exercise such as walking at least three times a week lowers your IOP. The benefits of exercise last if you continue to exercise. That’s why it’s recommended that you engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis.
3. Wear Eye Protection
Wearing protective eyewear when engaging in sports or high-risk activities is important. Eye injuries can lead to traumatic glaucoma, so protecting your eyes against injury is another way to prevent the disease.
4. Lower Your Insulin Levels
As insulin levels rise, it causes an increase in blood pressure and possibly eye pressure, too. Over time, this can make your body insulin-resistant, and insulin resistance is linked to elevated eye pressure. The best solution is to avoid sugars and high-carb foods such as bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and cereals.
5. Eat Dark-Colored Berries
Bilberries are known to prevent and even reverse macular degeneration, and blueberries and cranberries have bioflavonoids, which are also beneficial. These berries work by strengthening capillaries that carry nutrients to nerves and eye muscles. However, since berries contain sugar, they should be consumed in moderation to avoid an increase in insulin levels.
Ask Us for Help!
When you need access to comprehensive, affordable glaucoma care, contact Hamilton Healthcare Center. We can point you in the right direction of a provider that can help. Call us at (717) 232-9971 for more information today.