Glaucoma is a disease that occurs when something damages your optic nerve, which transmits information about the images you see to your brain. Usually the damage to the optic nerve is the result of high pressure inside the eye. Medical professionals refer to this pressure as intraocular pressure (IOP). Left untreated, high IOP continuously damages the delicate tissues of the optic nerve which can reduce your field of vision.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Fortunately, you can control the progression of glaucoma through medical treatment, exercise, diet, and other lifestyle choices. In addition to seeking medical care for your glaucoma, here are some lifestyle things you can implement that may slow the progression of glaucoma.
Exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, can control the progression of glaucoma. Aerobic exercise lowers intraocular pressure, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. In fact, a study found that aerobic exercise in the form of swimming almost completely reverses vulnerability of the optic nerve to injury.
Exercise can control the progression of glaucoma, but if you are like many people, you are reluctant to engage in aerobic activities because you do not see as well as you used to. The number of steps taken each day by participants in one study was proportional to the amount of vision loss they experienced – the worse the person’s visual field, the fewer steps he or she took.
Fortunately, activity does not need to be vigorous to be effective. Any activity that raises your pulse by 20 to 25 percent, such as a brisk walk, can help slow glaucoma. If your heart rate is normally 80 beats per minute, for example, exercise rigorously enough to raise your pulse to between 96 and 100 beats per minute.
To be effective, exercise at least four days each week and, when you do exercise, keep your heart rate elevated for at least 20 minutes.
Avoid Certain Body Positions
Some yoga poses, such as headstands and shoulder stands, increase the pressure inside your eyes. Lying on your side can also raise the pressure inside the eye closest to the pillow. Elevating the head of your bed can help avoid this position.
Eating leafy greens may help you control the progression of your glaucoma. In one study, participants who ate a diet high in dietary nitrates and leafy green vegetables were 21 percent lower risk for primary open-angle glaucoma.
Caffeine can raise intraocular pressure for 90 minutes or more. Researchers are still working to determine the effects antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and supplements may have on the progression of glaucoma.
Schedule an Appointment
If you have glaucoma and would like to learn more about controlling its progression, make an appointment with Florida Eye Specialists. Our eye doctors Dr. Shetty and Dr. Freidl are two of the state’s most accomplished glaucoma eye doctors. Make an appointment with one of our six locations around Jacksonville by calling 904-564-2020.