Glaucoma is a common eye disease and is the leading preventable cause of blindness. The key word here is “preventable.” If you aren’t sure if you have a higher-than-average risk of glaucoma, schedule a visit with Dr. Sondheimer in our office near Chicago. If you know you are at risk for this condition, schedule a visit with us. With early diagnosis and ongoing management, the progression and severity of glaucoma may be kept under control. Here, we discuss some of the lifestyle choices that can help glaucoma patients, as well as some that don’t.
DO See Your Eye Doctor Regularly
Every adult benefits from routine eye exams that evaluate the structures of the eyes. Age is a leading risk factor for glaucoma, but there are others. People with conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease have a higher risk for glaucoma. People with a family history of this disease do, as well. Lifestyle habits can also contribute to it. Regular eye exams monitor the health of the eye and can quickly spot changes that have occurred from one exam to the next. Because glaucoma does not provide clues of the damage it is causing to the optic nerve, eye exams are the primary avenue for detection.
DO Stay Active
Health experts across the board advise people of all ages to stay active. Studies have demonstrated the advantageous effects of exercise on eye health and, in particular, the risk of glaucoma. According to one study, adults who were physically active were 73 percent less likely to develop this eye disease when compared to folks who were relatively sedentary. It is believed that regular moderate to vigorous exercise, done 3 to 4 days a week, can reduce the risk of glaucoma by up to 25%.
DON’T Smoke Marijuana
Years ago, a few high-profile celebrities had stated that they used marijuana to help manage their glaucoma. While marijuana may reduce intraocular pressure, this practice could do more harm than good. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve by causing intraocular pressure to rise and fall throughout the day, every day. Pressure may fall significantly for a short time after smoking marijuana, yes, but this could have a boomerang effect in which pressure then rises dramatically. This kind of fluctuation could exacerbate the damage to the optic nerve.
DO Eat Well
There is no mystery around a healthy diet. It simply improves all aspects of health when we refrain from consuming too much sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. Conversely, foods like leafy greens and fresh fruits nourish the body with an abundance of antioxidants and healthy nitrates that can help reduce the risk of glaucoma by 20 to 30 percent.
DON’T Do Inversion
Some people go so far as to recommend that people with glaucoma avoid doing yoga. It may not be necessary to go that far, but it is absolutely necessary to avoid poses that involve bending far over. Inversion postures cause blood to rush to the head, which increases intraocular pressure. With glaucoma, intraocular pressure is already high, so an increase could worsen the impact on the optic nerve.
Get Your Personal Glaucoma Data
Annual ophthalmic exams are a vital aspect of knowing all about your overall health. Our comprehensive examinations observe the optic nerve using a special, non-invasive instrument. They also measure intraocular pressure to quickly identify elevation and the risk of glaucoma. If you have concerns about your risk for this condition or want to know more about your ocular health, we’re happy to help. Contact our Skokie, IL office at 847-677-2794 to schedule your visit.