According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 3 million Americans have the potentially blinding eye disease glaucoma, but only half are aware of it.
Glaucoma slowly damages the eye’s optic nerve, the important link between the eye and the brain. People with Glaucoma usually lose vision before they notice any problems with their eyes.
The most common type of Glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma. This is when fluid in the eye does not drain properly. The pressure inside the eye goes up and damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma interrupts this drainage cycle and causes pressure to rise dangerously.
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The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggested a few tips you can start doing today to prevent vision loss from Glaucoma.
1. Catch this silent thief of sight before you lose vision. If you are at risk for Glaucoma, you should see your eye doctor regularly for eye exams. They can find the disease in its early stages and treat it.
2. Tell your eye doctor about your blood pressure medicine. If your blood pressure drops too low during sleep, it can worsen glaucoma damage. If you take blood pressure medicine at night or have low blood pressure symptoms tell your eye doctor. They can discuss this with your primary care doctor. Do not change your blood pressure medication on your own.
3. Taking steroid medication? Talk with your eye doctor. Taking steroids for long periods of time or high doses can raise your eye pressure, especially if you have Glaucoma. Steroids that you take by mouth or use around your eyes are the most likely to increase eye pressure. Always tell your eye doctor if you are taking any steroids.
4. Eat well to see well. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables and colored fruits every day. They contain vitamins and minerals that protect your body and eyes.
5. Exercise … but carefully. A brisk walk and regular exercise at a moderate pace can lower eye pressure and improve your overall health.
6. Protect your eyes from injury. Eye injuries can lead to Glaucoma. Always wear protective eyewear during sports, while doing home improvement projects, or in your yard.
7. Avoid head-down positions. If you have Glaucoma or are at high risk of the disease, do not place your head below your heart for long periods of time. Head-down positions can significantly raise your eye pressure. Some people with severe Glaucoma may need to avoid certain yoga positions. Ask your eye doctor if you need to avoid a head-down position in your exercise routine.
8. Sleep in the right position. If you have Glaucoma, avoid sleeping with your eye against the pillow or on your arm.
9. Protect your eyes from sunlight. There is some evidence that the sun’s UV rays may cause a type of Glaucoma. Wear quality sunglasses and a hat when exploring the outdoors.
10. Keep your mouth clean. Recent research links gum disease with optic nerve damage in Glaucoma. Brush and floss your teeth every day and see your dentist regularly.
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Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology