According to the World Health Organization glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. There are more than 2.2 million people in the US with glaucoma but only half of them are aware they have it. There is not yet a cure for this disease. Although anyone can be at risk for glaucoma including infants that are born with it, older adults are usually at a higher risk along with younger African Americans. Medication or surgery is usually used to stop progressive loss of vision but there are some preventative measures that can be taken.
Normally the watery fluid in the eye or aqueous humor is regularly drained. In those with glaucoma the drainage system fails to function properly. After awhile continued build up of this fluid causes pressure in the eye. As time passes the pressure can cause damage to nerve fibers essential to vision and eyesight can suffer.
Understanding some of the statistics for glaucoma can be helpful in as far as recognizing the possibility of personal risk. It is the leading cause after cataracts of blindness in African Americans. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. People who are severely nearsighted, have had eye surgery, an eye injury or those with family members who have already been diagnosed with glaucoma are at higher risk. Chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and hypothyroidism can increase the risk for glaucoma also. There may not be any symptoms with glaucoma. Pain is not usually experienced with an increase in eye pressure. Vision loss may go unnoticed initially because it starts with gradual peripheral vision loss and many compensate by simply turning their head involuntarily. It isn’t until substantial vision is lost that most realize there is a problem.
Some natural preventative means that can be taken to help prevent glaucoma are listed below.
- Get checked routinely by an eye care professional.
- Exercise regularly. Consult with a health care provider to learn what type of physical activities are appropriate. Exercising can help decrease ocular pressure specifically open-angle glaucoma.
- Sip water often throughout the course of the day. Moderate amounts of fluids can help to temporarily alleviate pressure.
- Reduce caffeine intake. It may heighten eye pressure.
- Eat healthy. The diet can help to maintain eye health. Several vitamins and nutrients like vitamins C, E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and antioxidants support vision. Foods such as green leafy vegetables that include broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts, kale, and egg yolks are great sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Taking an omega-3 fatty essential acids supplement has been identified as good for eyesight also.
- Reduce stress when possible. Stress can trigger an onset of acute-angle closure glaucoma. Relaxation techniques may help.
- For those with diabetes, lower insulin levels. Control blood sugar levels as much as possible. It can cause blood pressure to increase.
Making some lifestyle changes, eating right and exercising regularly can all help to keep the eyes healthy. Knowing the risks and recognizing symptoms can also literally be half of the battle against glaucoma helping to prevent glaucoma.
Glaucoma Facts and Stats. Glaucoma.org. 22 Apr. 2013. 26 Jun. 2013.
Glaucoma: Lifestyle and Home Remedies. Mayoclinic.com. 2 Oct. 2012. 26 Jun. 2013.
Mercola,DO, Joseph M. “6 Sure-Fit Tips to Prevent Glaucoma Naturally.” Mercola.com. 31 Mar. 2009. 26 Jun. 2013.