Although genetics plays a role in an individual developing glaucoma, studies have shown that certain lifestyle choices may decrease your risk for the eye disease.
Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the United States and it affects over 60 million people worldwide. What’s more, only half of the people who have glaucoma are aware of it because the disease has no symptoms early on.
Glaucoma occurs when the eye’s optic nerve becomes damaged due to high pressure within the eye. Once vision is lost, it cannot be regained, so it’s important to take charge of your lifestyle choices now to avoid potential vision loss in the future.
Aerobic exercise is known to lower pressure within the eye, and short-term studies also show it may improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve. It doesn’t have to be rigorous exercise, just raising your pulse 20-25% can be beneficial – the equivalent of a 20-minute brisk walk.
Eating healthy isn’t just important for heart disease and cancer, it also plays a role in eye health. Avoiding salty foods and eating leafy green vegetables, fruits, and foods rich in omega-3 all help in reducing the risk for glaucoma.
Kick the Habit
Studies continually show that smoking can cause all kinds of health issues, and glaucoma is one of them. Smokers have an increased risk for developing the disease, so kick the habit as soon as possible.
Recent research has found that people diagnosed with sleep apnea were 1.67 times more likely to have glaucoma in the five years after diagnosis than those without the sleep condition. Scientists have yet to determine the exact association between the two conditions, but if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s important to visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam.
These lifestyle choices can help reduce your glaucoma risk, but if someone in your family has been affected by glaucoma, it’s important to receive a comprehensive eye exam at age 40. Early detection is key in combatting this disease.