Your eyes are your windows to the world. That’s why taking good care of your vision is so important. One way you can safeguard your vision is by learning more about eye health and certain conditions like glaucoma, as well as preventative measures and treatment options.
Many times, people do not realize they have glaucoma because it can have few or no symptoms. However, glaucoma can cause serious eye problems, including vision loss and even blindness.
Are You at Risk for Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that cause damage to your optic nerve, the part of the eye that carries information about what you view to your brain. When the optic nerve is damaged, it makes it difficult or impossible to see. Vision loss caused by glaucoma is not reversible, therefore it is important to catch and treat glaucoma as soon as possible.
Seniors over age 60 are most at risk for developing glaucoma because the risk increases as you age. Other risk factors include:
- Being nearsighted
- Previous eye injury
- Early estrogen deficiency
- A family history of glaucoma
- African American or Mexican American ethnicity
- Taking corticosteroid (allergy) medications, especially eye drops, for a long time
- Having a condition such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or sickle cell anemia
Living With Glaucoma
There is no cure for glaucoma, however, treatment may limit further vision loss. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, your treatment may include daily medications such as eye drops, oral beta blockers or medications that help reduce the production of eye fluid that causes pressure on the eyes. You will need to see your eye doctor on a regular basis to be sure that your vision is not worsening.
When medications aren’t effective, surgery may be an option. Laser surgery and conventional surgery can help reduce the build of up fluid and eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Laser surgery works by focusing a beam of light on the eye in order to increase the eye’s natural drainage system. Conventional glaucoma surgery involves making an incision with a small surgical tool in order to create a drainage hole that helps relieve eye pressure.
If you suffer from vision loss caused by glaucoma, you are not alone. Joining a support group — in person or online — can help you deal with the effects of living with vision loss and give you hope for the future.
Healthy Eyes Start With a Healthy You
Just like other parts of your body, your eye health depends on your overall health. Regular exercise and healthy eating are an important part of your eye health. Some studies have linked eating foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids as well as limiting caffeine intake, to help prevent glaucoma. Regular, moderate exercise can also help reduce eye pressure caused by glaucoma.
Wonder what food is best for maintaining healthy eyes? Consider these healthy options:
- Kale for lutein
- Sweet potatoes for beta carotene
- Strawberries for vitamin C
- Salmon for omega-3 fatty acids
- Green tea for antioxidants
Aside from a healthy lifestyle, early detection is key to limiting vision loss caused by glaucoma. Be sure to see your eye doctor for regular eye exams and take any prescription eye drops as prescribed. It is also important to know your family history and let your doctor know if glaucoma runs in your family.
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Balance, HCR ManorCare’s comprehensive health and wellness blog, supplies readers with healthy ideas throughout the year. The blog is designed to serve as a resource, not only for patients, residents and families, but for anyone who strives to live a healthy, “balanced” life. For more information and help in making healthy choices, go to balance.hcr-manorcare.com and sign up to receive our newsletters. If you need help making a health care decision, visit our CareFinder and live chat.