Eating right, exercising often and seeing your ophthalmologist regularly can really help keep you healthy. It can even help you better protect your eyes against the negative effects of glaucoma. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, people who engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity may be able to significantly lower their risk of glaucoma by 73 percent.
What is Glaucoma? A slow and progressive disease of the eye.
It is painless and vision loss is often not noticed until the disease is already advanced. You could lose up to 40% of your vision before diagnosis. Glaucoma occurs when the pressure within the eye is elevated, which can damage the optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Because there are no initial symptoms, as many as one million people may have glaucoma without realizing it. This condition is one of the main causes of blindness in the United States.
It has long been thought that lifestyle choices do not play a role in glaucoma, but several recent studies show that lifestyle factors can influence eye pressure, which is a major risk factor for the disease. To examine the correlation between exercise intensity and glaucoma, researchers from The University of California, Los Angeles looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a large study that has tracked the health and nutritional status of adults in the United States since the 1960s.
The researchers found that for each 10-unit increase in walking speed and number of steps taken per minute, glaucoma risk decreased by 6 percent. For each 10-minute increase in moderate-to-vigorous activity per week, glaucoma risk decreased 25 percent.
“Our research suggests that it is not only the act of exercising that may be associated with decreased glaucoma risk, but that people who exercise with higher speed and more steps of walking or running may even further decrease their glaucoma risk compared to people who exercise at lower speeds with less steps,” said Victoria L. Tseng, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles.
In addition to regular exercise, here are some tips The Mayo Clinic recommends to help you detect glaucoma early, limit vision loss, or slow its progress:
- Get regular eye care. Regular comprehensive eye exams can help detect glaucoma in its early stages before irreversible damage occurs. As a general rule, have comprehensive eye exams every four years beginning at age 40, and every two years from age 65. You may need more frequent screening if you’re at high risk of glaucoma. Ask your doctor to recommend the right screening schedule for you.
- Know your family’s eye health history. Glaucoma tends to run in families. If you’re at increased risk, you may need more frequent screening.
- Take prescribed eyedrops regularly. Glaucoma eyedrops can significantly reduce the risk that high eye pressure will progress to glaucoma. To be effective, eyedrops prescribed by your doctor need to be used regularly even if you have no symptoms.
- Wear eye protection. Serious eye injuries can lead to glaucoma. Wear eye protection when using power tools or playing high-speed racket sports on enclosed courts.
Everyone should be screened on a regular basis for this disease to ensure it is caught as early as possible and to facilitate treatment. It is crucial to make an appointment for a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible. Dilation enables your ophthalmologist to view the inside of the eye allowing him/her to identify and diagnose eye problems that may not otherwise be detected.
What is Glaucoma? Contact Zieker Eye today to learn more or schedule an appointment.