9 Steps to Prevent Glaucoma-Related Vision Loss

9 Steps to Prevent Glaucoma-Related Vision Loss

Glaucoma is often called the silent thief of sight, since people often don’t know they have the disease until they start experiencing irreversible vision loss. When eye fluid can’t drain properly, it raises pressure inside your eye. Over time, this increased pressure damages the optic nerve. If left untreated, peripheral (side) vision is usually affected first, followed by central vision loss.

If you’re wondering if glaucoma is preventable or reversible, the answer is no. While we don’t yet know how to stop glaucoma from starting, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has outlined important actions you can take to help prevent serious loss of vision, including blindness.

Nine (9) ways to preserve your sight with glaucoma

1. Get regular eye exams.

Risk factors for glaucoma include being over 40 years old, having family members with glaucoma, being a person of color, and having extreme nearsightedness. People at risk should have regular eye exams so the disease can be detected early on, treated, and monitored. The AAO says it’s essential to follow the medication instructions as prescribed by your doctor.

2. Tell your doctor if you’re taking steroid or blood pressure medication.

Eye pressure can rise from using steroids over a prolonged period or in high doses. Steroids most likely to raise eye pressure are those either taken by mouth or applied around the eyes. “Always tell your eye doctor if you are taking any kind of steroids,” the AAO advises. Also tell your ophthalmologist if you take blood pressure medicine, especially at night. Glaucoma damage can be made worse by blood pressure that’s too low during sleep.

3. Eat healthily for your eyes.

Fruits and vegetables are foundational to good health and good eyesight. AAO advises eating lots of leafy greens and a variety of colored fruits, berries, and vegetables daily. Colorful produce contains copious vitamins and minerals, carotenoids, and polyphenols, all of which nourish and help protect your eyes and overall health. Research shows that eating healthy foods is more effective at preventing glaucoma than taking vitamin supplements.

Living with glaucoma can be challenging. But you don’t have to face it alone.

Join other people like you who trust The Glaucoma Community to provide vetted medical information, a place to connect, and resources to help them live better.

4. Exercise (while exercising caution).

Regular exercise of moderate intensity, like brisk walking, can reduce eye pressure and is beneficial for overall health. Intense exercise can raise eye pressure, however, so people who lift heavy weights should consult with their doctor and a qualified personal trainer to determine safe techniques.

5. Wear eye protection.

Glaucoma can sometimes result from eye injuries. When playing sports, working with flying particles, or doing home repairs or yard work, always wear eye protection. It’s easy to collide with thin, low-lying branches, or be struck in the eye from lawn mower debris, for example.

6. Avoid head-down positions.

If you have glaucoma or are at high risk for the disease, avoid placing your head below your heart for extended periods. Inversion tables and gravity boots should be avoided, as they can greatly raise eye pressure. Certain yoga positions such as downward dog may also need to be avoided. The AAO advises that you ask your doctor if you should abstain from head-down positions while exercising.

7. Sleep safely with glaucoma.

The AAO says people with glaucoma should avoid having their eye against their pillow or on their arm. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a risk factor for glaucoma. It may also indicate other health issues. People who snore heavily or stop breathing during sleep should be tested for OSA.

8. Stay safe in the sun.

Being safe outdoors involves more than just sunscreen. Be sure to wear quality polarized sunglasses as well as a brimmed hat to protect your eyes from UV rays when outside. Evidence suggests a link between UV rays and glaucoma.

9. Maintain good oral hygiene.

Mounting evidence links glaucoma-related optic nerve damage with gum disease. Regular teeth brushing, flossing, and dental visits are also important for your eyes and overall health.

Source: Boyd, K. (2022, February 13). 10 Things To Do Today To Prevent Vision Loss From Glaucoma. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/easy-steps-to-prevent-vision-loss-from-glaucoma