Your eye health is very important and should not be taken for granted. As you age, your vision changes and you start having a hard time reading or driving at night. Glaucoma is the second leading cause for blindness globally and accounts for 10 percent of total blindness in the U.S. This translates to approximately three million Americans who have been diagnosed. Many of those affected are seniors aged above 65 years, and reports show that 75 percent “of those who are legally blind because of glaucoma are seniors.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting information from your eye to the brain, and when it gets damaged, it may lead to loss of vision and blindness.
Glaucoma doesn’t have early symptoms, which explains why half the population that has it don’t even know they have it. Currently, there is no cure for glaucoma, but early treatment can help preserve your sight.
What Causes Glaucoma?
While the real cause of glaucoma remains unclear, high eye pressure is one of the risk factors. Other risk factors include:
- Certain ethnic groups like African-American or Hispanic descent.
- Eye injury.
- The thickness of the optic nerve.
- A family history of glaucoma.
- Poor blood circulation.
- Farsightedness or nearsightedness.
According to doctors, there really isn’t a way to prevent glaucoma. However, there are steps you can take to delay the onset of glaucoma and reduce the risks of eye damage.
6 Tips to Prevent Glaucoma Eye Exam
Getting eye exams frequently is the sure way to diagnose glaucoma. A typical eye exam involves the doctor checking your eye pressure, the drainage angle of your eye, optic nerves for any signs of damage, performing a glaucoma screening, and testing peripheral vision. If you don’t have any risk factors for glaucoma, you should get regular eye exam depending on your age:
- Every five to 10 years if you’re younger than 40.
- If you fall between 40-54 years: Every two to four years
- Every one to three years if you fall between 55-64 years.
- Every one to two years if you fall in the 65 and older age bracket.
However, if you’re at high risk of developing glaucoma, talk to your doctor about the frequency of eye screening. If detected early on, glaucoma can be prevented from stealing your vision.
Regular exercises lower your insulin levels and are beneficial to your overall health. Moderate exercises such as jogging, walking, and swimming can go a long way to protecting your vision. Experts suggest that aerobic exercises can lower intraocular pressure (IOP), therefore, find a routine that works for you or join gym classes with friends for motivation. Keep in mind that the benefits from exercises only last as long you’re consistent with your exercises. Even a simple 20-minute walk or working on your yard can go a long way in lowering IOP.
Protect Your Eyes
Eye injuries increase the risk of developing glaucoma. This means that if you’re undertaking projects or any other activity that may cause eye trauma, you should use protective gear. Furthermore, the sun emits UV rays that can harm your eyes, especially if you stay in the sun for too long. To protect your eyes from exposure from the sun, use some nice sunglasses every time you go outside.
High eye pressure and poor blood circulation are the culprits that may lead to glaucoma. Eating plenty of leafy greens provides nitrate which your body converts to nitric oxide. One of the core functions of nitric oxide is to maintain optimal blood flow throughout the body, and as a result, it helps to reduce eye pressure. So, accompany your meals with leafy greens to improve your vision and prevent glaucoma.
Keep Your Weight in Check
Obesity and being overweight are markers for glaucoma. If you have a high Body Mass Index (BMI), the risk of high eye pressure increases. Similarly, having a low BMI puts you at a greater risk for primary angle glaucoma. Therefore, you need to fight to maintain your BMI between 18.5 and 24.5. This can be achieved by exercising to burn excess fat, avoiding highly processed foods, high-sugar foods, and unhealthy fats. Additionally, always try to live an active life to burn more calories. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the chances for glaucoma and gives you a healthy vision.
There are glaucoma eye drops that your doctor can prescribe to lower eye pressure by improving the drainage of fluids from your eye. Prescription eyedrops need to be used as directed by your doctor for effectiveness. You will be provided with eyedrops depending on how your eye pressure needs to be, and you may use more than one eye drop. If eyedrops don’t work on your eye pressure, your doctor may prescribe oral medication. The important thing to do is to speak to your doctor to determine the best prescription to regulate your eye pressure.
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