Glaucoma results from damage to the optic nerve which can impair vision. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, and is commonly referred to as the “Silent Thief of Sight” because it damages vision so gradually that you do not notice it until the advanced stages.
It is usually associated with elevated intraocular pressure or reduced circulation to the optic nerve. Another mechanism is when the microscopic drainage system in the eye is partially obstructed, the intra-ocular pressure increases causing damage to the optic nerve. However, even people with normal eye pressures can have glaucoma.
How Can I Tell If I Have Glaucoma?
Unfortunately, there are usually no symptoms until you have lost vision. Even the early stages of visual loss are can go unnoticed since the loss is very gradual, and begins in the periphery, then moves into your central vision. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best way to minimize or prevent optic nerve damage and limit glaucoma-related vision loss which is why we recommend annual eye exams.
How Do You Treat Glaucoma?
There is no cure for glaucoma, but continuing treatment can preserve eyesight. Eye drops are usually the first line of treatment followed by laser procedures, surgery, and oral medications. A glaucoma specialist will prescribe the best treatment for your type of glaucoma.
Risk Factors For Glaucoma Include:
- Family history (10X greater risk)
- African-American descent (6-8X higher risk than Caucasians)
- Age (although infants can have glaucoma)
- Thin cornea (front surface of eye)
- Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, hypothyroidism
- Severe eye injuries
- Prolonged corticosteroid use
- Elevated intraocular pressure (although people with low pressures can develop glaucoma also)
How Can I Reduce My Risk For Glaucoma, & Keep My Optic Nerve Healthy?
There are several ways to keep your body healthy and help reduce your risk for glaucoma. These can be used in conjunction with medical treatment for glaucoma, or if you are a glaucoma suspect to support optic nerve health. The same way that patients with diabetes and hypertension are encouraged to use diet and exercise rather than just depend on pharmaceuticals, we also recommend that glaucoma patients follow the same protocol.
- Regular exercise (40 minutes of brisk walking 3x/week for 3 months can reduce intraocular pressure by 20%)
- Quit smoking (smoking increases risk of glaucoma 2.9X)
- Limit caffeine intak
- Ocular Function spray: Nutraceutical designed to repair small blood vessels and increase circulation to the optic nerve)
- Limit YOGA inversion techniques which can increase intraocular pressure
- Ginkgo biloba (antioxidant that can increase blood flow and promote optic nerve health)
- Green leafy vegetables (i.e. spinach, collard greens, broccoli)
- Consume other antioxidants such as Vitamin E, C, B12
- Foods high in magnesium (Ex. Fish, apples, avocados, bananas, dairy)
- Eat less refined foods (i.e. white bread, pasta, sugar)
- Eat mainly vegetarian including cold-water fish, and eggs
- Chrysanthemum tea
- Chinese herbs (Wu Ling San Teapills, Huang Lian Yang Gin)
Being proactive in your eye and body’s health is the best way to preserve your vision and quality of life. We partner with our patients by educating you how to better care for yourself between office visits.
Sources: Glaucoma.org, healingtheye.com, medicalhealthguide.com