With the start of a new year, a great resolution to make and to keep is to guard your eye health from debilitating diseases such as glaucoma. Glaucoma causes vision loss and blindness by damaging the optic nerve at the back of the eye. It can start with a loss of peripheral vision and can continue into tunnel vision and even blindness.1 Half of the people with glaucoma don’t even know they have it since it has no early symptoms.2
At Colorado Ophthalmology Associates of Denver, CO, we want to shed some light on glaucoma during the month of January, Glaucoma Awareness Month, to help you guard against this vision-stealing disease.
The eye has fluid inside of it that is constantly renewing with an even flow in and out. When the fluid no longer drains as well as it should, eye pressure can build up. This puts pressure on the optic nerve and can damage it.3 In early stages, there are no symptoms or pain, so it is impossible to detect without a dilated eye exam.
Some people are at higher risk than others for developing glaucoma. African Americans over age 40 and adults over 60 have an elevated risk. Hispanic/Latino people over age 60, diabetics, and people with a family history of glaucoma are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma. If you are in one of these categories, early detection is especially important for you.2
There are 10 things you can do to prevent glaucoma.4
- Early detection is the most important prevention. Get regular eye exams from a board-certified ophthalmologist.
- Steroids can increase eye pressure. Talk to your doctor if you are at risk of glaucoma before taking steroids.
- A healthy diet filled with leafy greens, fruits in a variety of colors, berries and other vegetables can do a lot in keeping your eyes healthy. Studies show that a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables can be more beneficial than vitamins in protecting against glaucoma.
- Moderate exercise is able to lower eye pressure and to improve your health, but intense exercise can raise your eye pressure. Research the proper way to lift weights to keep your eye pressure lower. Maintaining a healthy weight, stopping smoking and regularly exercising can be helpful in prevention.5
- Wear protective eyewear to prevent eye injuries.
- Avoid positions in exercise routines or in therapy that put your head down for long periods of time.
- Avoid sleeping with your eye touching the pillow or your arm. Additionally, sleep apnea patients have an elevated risk of glaucoma.
- Wear UV-rated sunglasses or a wide hat to protect your eyes from UV rays.
- Drops in blood pressure can worsen damage caused by glaucoma. If you take blood pressure medication, talk to your ophthalmologist.
- Brush your teeth, floss and see your dentist regularly to prevent gum disease which may be linked to glaucoma.
To prevent vision loss, early detection of glaucoma is essential. If you are at an elevated risk, be sure to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam each year. Prescription eye drops can help stop the progression of glaucoma when caught early.5
Get an eye appointment today
Make a good habit of having an annual dilated eye exam to catch glaucoma before it becomes an emergency. Call today at one of our two Colorado locations in Denver or Lakewood to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for you and your family.