Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve. It typically happens when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye, placing pressure on the optic nerve. This condition is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 60. As common as glaucoma is, this disease does not have to steal your sight.
If you are in a high risk group for developing glaucoma, or already have glaucoma, it’s important to see your eye specialist regularly. Routine eye exams allow your doctor to monitor your condition and prevent vision loss. In the meantime, here are some things to avoid when you have glaucoma.
Trans Fatty Acids
Trans fatty acids are linked to high cholesterol and known to damage blood vessels. This damage can happen anywhere in the body, including the eyes. This is why it’s best to steer clear of trans fatty acids when you have glaucoma, as you don’t want to damage the optic nerve any further. Foods that contain high trans fatty acids include cakes, donuts, cookies and fried foods.
Saturated fats should also be avoided when you have glaucoma. Foods that are high in saturated fats can lead to weight gain and cause glaucoma symptoms to worsen. To lower your consumption of saturated fats, the best foods to avoid are fatty cuts of red meat, lard, shortening and butter.
Multiple Cups of Coffee
You’ll need to cut back on coffee when you have glaucoma. One or two cups a day is probably fine, but too much caffeine can increase eye pressure. Also, one study found that drinking five or more cups of coffee a day increased the risk for glaucoma.
It’s recommended that people with glaucoma maintain an active, well-balanced lifestyle. This includes staying active and exercising most days of the week. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes a day. The only exercises to avoid are those that raise eye pressure such as certain yoga poses.
High resistance wind instruments like the trumpet can cause a change in intraocular pressure. People who play these instruments may experience a consistent drop in pressure that raises the risk for glaucoma. If you play a high-wind instrument, talk to your eye doctor about safe ways to play.
While it’s true that smoking marijuana can lower eye pressure, it’s only for a short time. It is not an adequate treatment for glaucoma – or any eye condition. Additionally, more research is needed to determine how cannabis affects eye pressure and glaucoma. Cigarettes, too, raise the risk for glaucoma and have an overall negative effect on physical health.
Glaucoma isn’t always preventable, but the lifestyle choices you make can have a significant impact on your outcome. If you’re at risk for glaucoma, be sure to schedule routine eye exams with your ophthalmologist to monitor your condition and prevent vision loss.