Right now, it’s estimated that 3 million Americans have some level of glaucoma, but 50% of them have no idea that their sight is at risk. Worldwide, this eye condition is the second-leading cause of blindness when left untreated. There are few symptoms, particularly early in the stages of optic nerve damage.
The best way to protect your vision is through regular testing with a glaucoma specialist like a member of the team of ophthalmologists at IC Laser Eye Care. They can recognize the signs of glaucoma long before symptoms emerge and help you with treatment to minimize the impact on your vision.
Causes of glaucoma
Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve, which leads to vision loss. As the effects of damage take hold, you begin to develop blind spots. Though it’s not fully understood why, nerve damage is related to increased pressure of the fluid that fills your eyes. There is, though, a less common form of the eye disease that doesn’t involve increased pressure.
Risk factors for glaucoma
Apart from the fact that glaucoma seems to run in some families, it’s not known why some people develop glaucoma while others don’t. You may be at greater risk, though, if you have one or more of these factors in play:
- You’re over 60
- You have diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, or sickle cell anemia
- Asian, black, or Hispanic ancestry
- You’ve previously had an eye injury or eye surgery
- You’re either extremely near or far sighted
If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma, you can reduce your risk of vision loss by taking medications prescribed for your condition as directed.
Reducing your glaucoma risk
The best way to spot glaucoma early is by testing with a vision professional like IC Laser Eye Care. If you’re under the age of 40, consider an eye exam every five years, increasing in frequency as you get older.
A diet full of leafy green vegetables and brightly colored berries contains the vitamins and minerals you need to maintain healthy vision. Consuming these nutrients through whole foods is better for your eyesight than via vitamins and other dietary supplements.
When you have an elevated risk of glaucoma or if you’ve been diagnosed, intense exercise could contribute to raised pressure in your eyes. Instead, exercise at a moderate pace, including brisk walking, at least three times a week. Yoga is a wonderful form of gentle exercise, but avoid inverted positions, since these can raise eye pressure.
Take care with medications
Discuss your blood pressure medications with your ophthalmologist, since these can cause blood pressure to drop enough to affect glaucoma damage. High doses or long courses of steroid medications can cause increases in intraocular pressure. Check with your doctor and eye specialist, though, before making any changes to your medications.
Protect your eyes
Use safety glasses, sports goggles, or sunglasses to further protect your eyes from physical injury and ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Eye injuries can cause traumatic glaucoma, while UV exposure is connected with another form of the disease.
If you don’t recall the last time you were screened for glaucoma, then it’s time to contact IC Laser Eye Care at one of its locations — in Philadelphia and Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, New Jersey. You can book your exam by phone or by using the online booking tool. If you have glaucoma, the sooner you start treatment, the less your vision will suffer, so make an appointment now.