January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, during which we typically discuss the dangers of this group of eye diseases and how to identify the risks associated with them. Because glaucoma comes in second only after cataracts as a leading cause of blindness, awareness if a vital aspect of preserving vision. There is no cure for glaucoma, but several effective treatments have been developed to slow or halt the progression of vision loss.
Increased ocular pressure is the major concern associated with glaucoma. It is the increased and unmanaged pressure in the eyes that can lead to vision loss. When pressure is consistent, it compromises the optic nerve, the structure that transfers light from the retina to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve affects different fields of vision at a time and, once this happens, vision cannot be reinstated regardless of treatment.
For people who have a high risk of glaucoma or have been diagnosed with this eye disease, there are some do’s and don’ts that can help them manage their eye health. While early diagnosis and proper care are vital to the quality of life, so is the development of strategies revolving around ocular pressure. Do’s and don’ts that patients need to know include:
-DO see the eye doctor regularly even if you only have a slight risk for glaucoma. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with this condition, or if you are over age 60, you have enough risk to be assessed regularly for signs of this condition. Individuals who have hypertension or diabetes or who have taken corticosteroid medication for a long period also have a higher risk of glaucoma than the average person. So, the first DO of glaucoma is to see your eye doctor to assess your risk and follow-up on eye health regularly. Also,
-DO maintain good dietary habits. Studies have indicated that leafy greens and fresh fruits and vegetables contain vital antioxidants that could lower the risks of glaucoma up to 30%.
-DO exercise. A study conducted by scientists at UCLA reported that physically active people are up to 75% less likely to suffer glaucoma than individuals who are inactive.
-DON’T do inversions. Over the past several years, yoga and conventional inversion therapy have become popular methods of managing health and wellness. For the person with glaucoma, being upside-down is anything but healthy. Inverted postures send blood into the head and increase ocular pressure.
-DON’T smoke marijuana. Since marijuana has become a widely accepted form of natural medicine, more high-profile people are talking about how they smoke pot to ease the pressure in their eyes. The danger of marijuana use for glaucoma is that some patients have a wide variant of ocular pressure throughout any given day. Using marijuana may decrease ocular pressure but then create a bounce-back effect in which ocular pressure increases dramatically.
Learn more about glaucoma and how to preserve your vision. Call our Mililani office at 808.625.5577.