During Glaucoma Awareness Month, Let’s Talk Do’s and Don’ts
You may be aware of the fact that glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. Recently, it has been estimated that, by 2020, as many as 79 million people will be living with this eye disease. Glaucoma has been referred to as a “silent” disease. The term describes the discreet way in which glaucoma occurs and ultimately affects vision. At first, there may be no symptoms at all. In fact, the primary symptom of glaucoma is vision loss. Once this occurs, though, there is no getting back what has been lost. For this reason, we encourage people to know their risks, to see their eye doctor, and also to know how to manage the risk of both the development and worsening of glaucoma.
The way that glaucoma disrupts vision is by pressing on the optic nerve. Intraocular pressure, or pressure inside the eye, compresses the nerve at the back of the eye through which light transfers to the brain as stimulation that forms a visual impression. Without a fully intact optic nerve, light does not accurately transfer to the brain. Bit by bit, different fields of vision become affected.
Seeing that the direct cause of vision loss is pressure in the eye, glaucoma treatment largely focuses on reducing that pressure. Our Do’s and Don’ts focus on preventing the buildup of pressure. To do this, experts suggest:
- A balanced diet. Studies have indicated that a healthy diet that contains a good portion of leafy greens can reduce the risks associated with glaucoma by up to 30 percent. This is due to the high antioxidants and natural nitrates in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- A healthy activity level. In a UCLA study, researchers found that people who were more active had as much as 73 percent less risk for glaucoma as those whose lifestyle was sedentary. They suggested that as little as 10 minutes of increased physical output (moderate to vigorous) could reduce glaucoma risk by 25 percent.
- Avoid marijuana use. Some people say that they use marijuana specifically to reduce ocular pressure. However, this tactic could have an unwanted effect of “bouncing” ocular pressure from very low to very high, potentially damaging the optic nerve.
- Avoid inversions. Inversion therapy is not necessarily common among all people, but it can be beneficial for people with back pain and may be recommended by certain healthcare providers. Where we see more inversion taking place is in the area of yoga. If you have glaucoma, inverted postures in which your head is below your heart are not ideal due to the increase they cause in eye pressure.
The earliest detection of glaucoma should be during a comprehensive eye exam, not with vision loss. To schedule your exam in our office near Houston, call (713) 668-7337.