8 ways to help reduce the risk of developing glaucoma

When you know you're at risk for glaucoma, even if you don't know damage is being done, you're more likely to take measures to prevent irreversible damage from happening. Here's how you can help yourself.

8 ways to help reduce the risk of developing glaucoma

1. Know your risk

While anyone can develop glaucoma, your risk is significantly higher if anyone in your family has it.

  • You're more likely to suffer from it if you're over age 60, or if you're an African-American over age 40.
  • African-Americans are five times more likely to develop glaucoma and 15 times more likely to become blind due to glaucoma between the ages of 45 and 64.
  • Diabetes, high blood pressure, nearsightedness, severe eye injuries and long-term use of steroid medications may also increase your risk.

2. Have regular eye exams

You should have comprehensive eye exams every two to four years beginning at age 40. After you hit 65, start seeing the eye doctor every one to two years.

  • Your eye doctor will dilate your pupils to look for signs of optic nerve damage, measure eye pressure levels and check your cornea.
  • You should also have a visual field test to check for tiny blind spots in your vision.

3. Use eyedrops

If the pressure inside your eyes is elevated, daily pressure-lowering eyedrops could help save your vision.

  • People with high eye pressure and no signs of optic nerve damage can cut their risk of damage over the next five years in half if they use drops.
  • If your optic nerve loss is progressing despite the use of drops, your doctor may suggest surgery to lower your eye pressure.

4. Control diabetes

Having Type 2 diabetes raises your risk of developing glaucoma by 70 per cent.

  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under control.
  • Have your eyes checked annually for glaucoma and other diabetes-related vision problems.

5. Get moving

Exercise that raises your heart rate can lower glaucoma risk.

  • About 20 minutes of aerobic activity lowers your eye pressure afterwards.
  • Exercising four times a week keeps your pressure lower throughout the day.
  • Avoid moves that lower your head below heart level, such as headstands. These can raise pressure in the eye.

6. Quit smoking

Smokers are 37 per cent more likely to develop glaucoma than non-smokers.

  • If you're at risk for glaucoma or already have it, it's another good reason to kick the habit.

7. Relax and refresh

Evidence suggests that emotional stress raises fluid pressure inside the eyes. Relaxation techniques can reverse that trend.

  • In one study, subjects who did guided imagery exercises to relax reduced their eye pressure significantly.
  • It's no substitute for drops, but it could help.

8. Cut coffee

Several studies suggest that a serious coffee habit could raise eye pressure and risk of optic nerve damage.

  • Australian researchers found that the more coffee subjects drank, the higher their eye pressure.
  • While other caffeinated beverages seemed to have little effect, coffee did. Although caffeine may still be the culprit.

Glaucoma is a sneaky thief. Damage usually begins decades before you realize anything is wrong. Catching problems early is a top priority, so talk to your doctor about how frequently you need eye exams.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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