Is it right to say that glaucoma is an eye disease for the aged? In what ways can it be avoided?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes vision loss and can cause blindness. Glaucoma is hazardous because the most common type—called “open-angle” glaucoma—does not usually cause symptoms at first.
What causes glaucoma?
Most glaucoma happens when the fluid inside your eye does not drain normally. (This fluid is not tears, but a fluid called “aqueous humor.”) When fluid builds up, so does the pressure inside your eye. This pressure damages the optic nerve, causing vision loss and eventually blindness.
It is possible to have glaucoma with normal eye pressure. Doctors call this “normal-tension glaucoma.” It could happen if the optic nerve is fragile or there is poor blood flow to the nerve.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
Open-angle and normal-tension glaucoma do not usually cause symptoms. If you don’t know you have glaucoma, you might not notice anything until you lose vision. This is why glaucoma is sometimes called the “silent thief of sight.”
Vision loss from glaucoma can make things look blurry around the edges.
A type of glaucoma called “angle-closure” or “narrow-angle” glaucoma can cause sudden symptoms, including:
- Severe eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Halos around lights
- Vision loss, including sudden loss of side (peripheral) vision
While there are no surefire ways to prevent glaucoma from developing, regular screenings and early detection are the best forms of protection against the harmful damage that the disease can cause. While anyone can develop glaucoma, some people are at a higher risk for developing the disease. These people may include those who:
- Are over the age of 60
- African Americans over the age of 40
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Have poor vision
- Have diabetes
These habits that may help reduce the risk of losing your vision from glaucoma.
1) Exercise regularly.
A recent study showed that people who engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity appear to have a 73 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma. This is because blood flow and pressure inside the eye may change with exercise, which may affect glaucoma risk.
2) Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially green, leafy ones.
One study showed that people who ate more leafy vegetables have a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma. Why? Nitrates in green vegetables can be converted to nitric oxide, which can improve blood flow and help regulate pressure inside the eye.
3) Drink coffee in moderation. Better yet, drink tea instead of coffee.
A study published last month showed that people who consumed at least one cup of hot tea daily had 74 percent decreased odds of having glaucoma compared with those who did not consume hot tea. A little coffee is fine, but excessive caffeine intake is not ideal. One study found that drinking 5 or more cups of caffeinated coffee increased the risk of developing glaucoma. How can tea help? Antioxidants and the flavonoids contained in tea may improve the body’s ability to prevent the harmful effects of free radical damage.
4) Consider taking a magnesium supplement.
Studies suggest that an adequate intake of dietary magnesium may be beneficial for patients with glaucoma. Why? Magnesium improves circulation and seems to have a beneficial effect on glaucoma patients’ vision.
5) Brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly.
A recent study showed that tooth loss may be linked to increased glaucoma risk. This is because periodontal disease may trigger an inflammatory response that can contribute to glaucoma.
6) Don’t smoke.
Studies indicate that smoking cigarettes increases the risk of glaucoma, and has an overall negative impact on eye health.
7) Maintain a healthy body weight.
Studies show that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) are at increased risk for diabetes, and having diabetes puts people at risk of glaucoma. Having a too low BMI is also associated with increased glaucoma risk.
8) Avoid neckties.
Researchers say that a too-tight necktie may increase the risk of glaucoma by increasing blood pressure inside the eyes.
9) Get screened regularly for glaucoma, especially if you have a family history of the condition.
Researchers have recently identified certain genes that increase the risk of glaucoma. Those at higher risk of glaucoma include people of African descent, people with diabetes, and those with a family history of glaucoma. You are at increased risk if you have a parent or brother or sister with glaucoma.