As one of the leading causes of blindness in people over the age of 60, glaucoma prevention deserves your attention. Not only is it common among the aging population, but it’s more common among African Americans than other ethnicities. And, if you’ve recently had eye surgery, you’re more prone to getting it. For such a prominent and detrimental disease, you’d think there would be a cure. As of yet, there isn’t one. However, there are many natural ways to prevent glaucoma and even treat the symptoms if you get it. It all starts with eating a nutritious diet rich in glaucoma vitamins.
We rely on the optic nerve to translate messages to the brain. Essentially, it’s what allows the brain to receive messages from the eyes. The optic nerve is vulnerable to getting damaged by pressure in the eyes, called ocular hypertension. The pressure comes from a build-up of eye fluid that isn’t able to access or get through the drainage angle. When this happens, patients don’t feel any pain or pressure in the eyes. Often, the first notable symptoms are blurred vision and vision loss.
There are two main types of glaucoma: open angle and narrow angle. In open angle glaucoma, too much fluid is produced inside the eye and the drainage angle can’t effectively drain it all. In narrow angle, part of your eye is partially or fully blocking access to the drainage angle. The fluid, in both cases, doesn’t drain and the intraocular eye pressure (IOP) builds.
Since there are next to no symptoms of glaucoma, it’s crucial to get regular eye exams. During the exam, the eye doctor will measure the ocular fluid in your eyes. They’ll also use measuring technology to check on the optic nerve. Having regular eye exams allows the doctor to track your IOP. They may also suggest different preventative measures. One of the most important measures is taking vitamins for glaucoma prevention.
Which Glaucoma Vitamins Are Safe and Effective?
Many vitamins that benefit your overall health will also benefit your eyes. However, to truly prevent glaucoma, there are a few specific glaucoma vitamins you need to get. Although glaucoma vitamins are easy and convenient to take, you can also get these nutrients from your diet.
The first group of vitamins for glaucoma are called antioxidants. These nutrients are the soldiers fighting off diseases in your eyes. They help keep the cells in your eyes and your optic nerve strong. The body naturally produces free radicals when it completes important functions, like metabolizing. Free radicals are single electrons desperately trying to find another electron to match with. This results in oxidative stress, or damage to cells, DNA, and proteins. In your eyes, oxidative stress is detrimental to your optic nerve and can contribute to glaucoma.
Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals going rampant in your body. Thus, they prevent oxidative damage and protect your optic nerve from developing glaucoma and other diseases. There are many different types of antioxidants, some of which have additional benefits to the eyes. They include glaucoma vitamins C, A, and B.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an amazing vitamin for glaucoma prevention. Not only is it an antioxidant, but it can help reduce IOP. Specifically, it can help decrease IOP around the trabecular meshwork. This is the eye tissue near the drainage angle responsible for draining fluid from the anterior chamber. If the trabecular meshwork doesn’t provide adequate drainage, fluid builds up and increases IOP. According to the one study, vitamin C can lower IOP by 20 percent in the first two hours of taking the supplement. However, it should be noted that taking more than the recommended dose can lead to kidney stones and stomach upset.
You can get vitamin C from citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit. It’s also present in broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. If you’d prefer to take glaucoma vitamins in supplement form, make sure you follow the dose instructions on the label.
3. Vitamin A
Another antioxidant, vitamin A plays a critical role in preventing infections and inflammation. Uveitis, the term for inflammation in the eyes, can lead to glaucoma. Inflamed tissues and particles in the eye can block the trabecular meshwork’s access to drain fluids. This causes the IOP to build and eventually damage the optic nerve. Learn about the symptoms of uveitis so you can treat it right away. They include eye redness, pain, blurred vision, and dark floaters in your vision. It’s crucial that you proactively prevent inflammation in the eyes if you want to prevent glaucoma.
You can take vitamins for glaucoma that contain safe doses of vitamin A. To get it from your diet, eat plenty of carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and cantaloupe.
4. Vitamin B (Niacin)
The group of B vitamins are vital to cell health throughout the entire body. They are known to reduce homocysteine, a protein associated with inflammation in the eyes. As mentioned above, preventing inflammation is key when preventing glaucoma. A recent study exposed how vitamin B3 can prevent glaucoma in genetically predisposed mice. This is huge and could potentially lead to a cure in the future. For now, continue to take your glaucoma vitamins that include B3. You can also get B3 in your diet from leafy greens, red meat, fish, and legumes.
Besides taking your glaucoma vitamins, there are some other things you can do to prevent it. For starters, quit smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. At the very least, consume less. Both these vices increase your chances of developing glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. Next, maintain healthy blood pressure by exercising daily and consuming a healthy diet. Remember that some groups, like African Americans, are more prone to getting glaucoma. People in these groups should take extra precautions and get annual eye exams. Glaucoma vitamins are a crucial part of prevention, but they’re not the only important element.
As always, taking care of your eyes from a young age by eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and going in for regular eye exams will set you up to have good vision, for life. Taking these vitamins into consideration when planning your meals will certainly help as well!