Glaucoma is an eye disease that reduces the eyes’ field of vision over time. In really rare cases, a person can maintain a perfect 20/20 vision but find that his range of vision is like that of a horse with blinders. Without proper treatment, the field of vision can decrease at a fast rate and end in total blindness.
Cases of glaucoma have been increasing in recent years. Although this eye disease is mostly associated with aging, much younger people can also suffer from the early onset of glaucoma.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is caused by damage to the Optic Nerve. When it comes to preventing glaucoma from getting worse, it’s imperative to understand what causes it first. Intraocular pressure higher than what the internal eye tissues can tolerate causes them to deteriorate.
This degeneration of the optic nerve causes the gradual loss of the peripheral field of vision. However, studies show that increased eyeball pressure is not the only variable behind damaged optic nerves.
What Damages the Optic Nerves?
For the longest time, the degeneration of the optic nerve was believed to be solely due to increased pressure in the eyeball. Higher eyeball pressure than what the tissues inside the eye can tolerate, happens when the eyeball produces more fluid internally then what it is able to drain out.
Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan discovered that a lot of glaucoma patients have normal pressure in their eyes. What the patients suffered from was reduced blood flow in the optic nerves. This led eye specialists to believe that poor circulation is the more common cause. Thus, to prevent the fast progression of the disease, the eyeball’s pressure needs to be lowered to a safe level to ensure good overall internal eye health.
How to Treat Glaucoma
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for glaucoma just yet. Even laser treatments and surgery will not be able to restore lost field of vision. The only thing ophthalmologists can do is to prevent the disease from getting worse.
Glaucoma is most commonly treated with eye drops that reduce the formation of internal eye fluid, or facilitates the outflow thereof.
Where this is not enough to keep the eyeball pressure in a safe range, surgical options are used. This includes Laser Trabeculoplasty, Implants that provide a shunt for drainage, and even Surgical Filtering procedures such as Trabeculectomy.
The Glaucoma Research Foundation reports on additional potential avenues for treatment that are currently being developed.
Eye Care for People at a High Risk of Developing Glaucoma
Oxidative stress has been identified as one of the reasons behind the fast progression of glaucoma, as seen in multiple studies including those by the University of Genoa, the Ophthalmic Research Unit and Cellular and Molecular Research Unit at the University of Valencia and published by the Progress in Retinal and Eye Research and Journal of Glaucoma. As such, treating it should be a priority.
Listed below are some of the lifestyle changes that eye specialists recommend for fighting oxidative stress and improving overall health:
Establish a routine
Having an irregular lifestyle arrests the body’s immune system and makes nerve cells, including optic nerves, vulnerable to damage. Therefore, establish a routine and keep stress levels low. Go to sleep around the same hours every night, and sleep at the right time.
If you want your hormones to work optimally in restoring your body’s strength and defenses, catch your zzzs before 10 PM. This is the optimal time for sleep because it is at this time that the body releases its reparative hormones which aid in cell regeneration.
Consume citrus and superfoods
Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and lime have this substance called hesperidin. This substance has been proven most effective in preventing the death of optic nerves, research at Tohoku University in Japan revealed.
Other foods also fight oxidative stress. They are rich in antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. So, make sure to consume berries, dark chocolate, turmeric, green tea, and pomegranates.
See your eye doctor regularly
Most cases of glaucoma do not cause any pain or noticeable symptoms. As the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns, some types such as open-angle glaucoma have no warning signs, with most patients knowing about the condition only after already experiencing severe vision damage.
As such, committing to regular visits to your eye doctor is essential to the overall vision health, and more so if you are at high risk for developing glaucoma.
Through proper monitoring and routine, comprehensive eye exams, your doctor can better identify the early signs of glaucoma. In case you have been diagnosed with it, your eye care team will then work with you to develop a plan on how to manage the condition and schedule the necessary treatments that will protect your remaining vision and eye health.
About the Author
Dr. Millicent M. Grim, Specialist Ophthalmologist & LASIK Specialist, is the Medical Director of Gulf Eye Center in Dubai. Since 2002, Gulf Eye Center’s highly qualified ophthalmologists and optometrists/ODs have been successfully treating a wide range of eye conditions using advanced techniques. They also provide comprehensive eye care and vision restoration procedures for people of all ages.
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