If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma or high pressure in your eyes, you’re not alone; glaucoma is, unfortunately, a very common eye disease that affects the aging population. About three million Americans have glaucoma, but only half are aware of it.
Untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness (it is, in fact, the second leading cause of worldwide blindness).
It’s a condition that must be taken seriously as it is progressive and worsens with age. Even if you haven’t yet been diagnosed with glaucoma, you should take the time to learn more about it. Especially if you are diabetic, have a family history of glaucoma or have pre-existing vision problems.
Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks with Your Eyesight!
As we age, we expect to have some difficulty with our vision. Many people don’t realize that the problems they are having with their vision are not simply a normal result of aging. Glaucoma can sneak up on people because some of the symptoms are difficult to spot. Even people who have never had a vision problem should begin to have regular eye exams after age 40. Make sure that you tell your eye doctor all the changes you may have noticed in your vision. They can only help if they know there is a problem.
There are a few steps you can take on your own to improve or prevent glaucoma.
What Is Glaucoma?
First things first: what causes Glaucoma?
In the same way we can have high blood pressure, we can have high intraocular pressure. Glaucoma is usually caused by elevated or high intraocular eye pressure. This high amount of pressure damages the optic nerves and leads to the main glaucoma symptoms, such as a loss of peripheral vision and blurry vision.
Folks Most at Risk of Developing Glaucoma Include:
- People who are over the age of 60: As we age, our eyes age as well. Glaucoma is most often diagnosed in people over the age of 60.
- People who have a family history of glaucoma: As with many other illnesses, if members of your immediate family suffer from glaucoma, there is a higher chance that you may also be at risk.
- Unfortunately, the symptoms associated with glaucoma hinder normal blood flow to the eye.
- People who already suffer from nearsightedness or farsightedness: Existing vision problems can weaken the eyes making it more likely that you will have problems with glaucoma as you age.
A very common symptom of glaucoma, one that often goes unrecognized at first, is a loss of peripheral vision (this can be dangerous when driving). Blurred vision, seeing halos, eye pain and headaches are also symptoms although they do vary from person to person.
It’s always wise to seek out medical counsel when you’re experiencing any new health issue. Talk to your eye doctor before starting any new treatments.
What Can You Do About Glaucoma?
Now that we know what causes glaucoma, what can we do about it? Although some of the risk factors above are unavoidable, it is possible to reduce your eye pressure naturally. These are simple, common sense, suggestions that can make a big difference in the way your eyes age.
The first step on the path to lowering your eye pressure naturally is to lower your insulin levels. Insulin can cause your eye pressure to increase. So it’s wise to avoid sugary and carbohydrate-heavy foods such as sodas, starches, sweets and breads. A change in your diet can make a big difference in not only your eye health, but your overall health as well. Isn’t it worth giving up some of the foods you love in order to protect your vision?
Because exercise can help you lower your eye pressure, it’s a good idea to start incorporating some low-impact exercise into your daily routine. Go for a walk, take a swim or hop on your bike and do your eyes, and your heart, a good deed! If you don’t have the time or a safe place to walk, consider a treadmill machine either in your home or the local gym. Walking in the fresh air is of course the best option but it is not always possible for everyone.
Just as you reduce stress to reduce your blood pressure, you should try reducing stress in order to reduce your eye pressure as elevated levels of stress have been linked with elevated eye pressure. Physicians report that stress is a rising concern for people in all types of jobs. People fight stress in many different ways. Some proven methods are deep breathing exercises, yoga, walking, or even spending time with your family. Find the stress reliever that works the best with your lifestyle.
Finally, eat a healthy diet! Nutrients like vitamins C, E and A, as well as fatty acids and minerals, can all help to protect your important optic nerve. Cutting back on sugars and carbohydrates is a good beginning but there are actually foods that can help your eyes to function better. Many of the vitamins and minerals that your eyes need can be found in a well balanced diet. Diets that are high in leafy green vegetables are recommended because of the vitamins they contain.
Many of us struggle with maintaining a healthy diet. If your daily life is too hectic to allow for well balanced meals or if you just don’t know how to prepare the food you should be eating, you may want to consider purchasing vitamins for eye health that will supplement your eyes’ nutritional needs!
These simple lifestyle changes can really help you reduce your eye pressure. Remember that when you take care of your body, you reap the benefits tenfold! Many of the things that your physician has been telling you to do for your overall health are probably similar to our suggestions. After all, your eyes are an important part of your body, it makes sense that what is good for your body would also be good for your eyes.
Take the time to take care of your eyes! Don’t miss seeing what the future holds.