As we grow older, we begin to get anxious about our health, including our eye health. Maybe it was because our latest eye exam showed an increasing pressure and redness in both eyes, or perhaps a close relative was just diagnosed with glaucoma. Did someone tell you that glaucoma is a hereditary eye condition? If you already know this, then you also know you might need to take the necessary steps to prevent or slow down the progression of this eye condition.
It is an eye disease that destroys the optic nerve, which is responsible for sending impulses from the eye to the brain. When this is damaged, then the odds are likely that you will eventually lose your vision.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, at 65 years old, one out of three Americans will be diagnosed with a damaging eye condition. And second to cataract, glaucoma is the second most common cause of vision loss across the United States. It is also one of the leading causes of blindness all over the world.
The primary cause of glaucoma is unknown, but increased eye pressure is said to be the most common factor. If it is left without any medical care, this eye condition will ultimately lead to blindness.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
It should be noted that there might be a higher likelihood for other individuals to develop glaucoma. Some of the risk factors include but are not limited to:
- A family history of glaucoma
- Increased eye pressure
- Nearsightedness or farsightedness
- Past history of eye injury
- Thin cornea
- Existing conditions such as migraines, diabetes, and poor blood circulation
Developing two or more of these risk factors significantly heightens a person’s risk of developing glaucoma.
Tips to Slow Down The Progression Of Glaucoma
Unfortunately, there is no known prevention of glaucoma. However, there are steps that we can take to slow down the progression of the disease and consequently reducing the risk of eye damage or vision loss.
- Don’t Miss Your Regular Eye Checkups. This is essential in preventing glaucoma and other equally severe eye conditions. Routine eye examinations are a must. For glaucoma to be properly confirmed and diagnosed, the doctor conducts screening and inspects the drainage angle in both eyes. He will also check the status of the optic nerve and do a peripheral vision test. “People who fail to have routine eye exams and develop glaucoma typically become aware of it only after they’ve sustained permanent vision loss from the disease. And by that time, controlling glaucoma to prevent additional vision loss can be very difficult, explains Gary Heiting, OD.
Below is a list of age ranges and the number of times one is required to go for eye examinations.
Below 40 years old: once in five to ten years
40-54 years old: once in two to four years
55-64 years old: once in one to three years
65 years and older: once every one or two years
However, if your odds of developing glaucoma are relatively higher, then you must talk to your ophthalmologist about your screening schedules.
- Find Ways To Reduce Eye Pressure. For individuals who have developed increased eye pressure or ocular hypertension, consult your doctor so he can prescribe quality eye drops that you can use regularly to slow down the progression of glaucoma. According to Dr. Norm Zabriskie, MD, a glaucoma expert at the Moran Eye Center, “there have been multiple, very large, very well-designed and well-conducted studies both in the United States and in Europe and elsewhere…have fundamentally proven that lowering intraocular pressure, though not a cure, is absolutely beneficial in terms of either stopping or at least delaying the progression of glaucoma.”
The Glaucoma Foundation suggests that exercise is a great way to decrease eye pressure. They may walk or do light jogging three times a week.
According to Robert L. Stamper, MD, professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Director Emeritus of the Glaucoma Service at the University of California San Francisco, “a regular program of moderate exercise will benefit your overall health, and studies have shown that moderate exercise such as walking or jogging three or more times every week can have an IOP lowering effect.”
- Avoid Eye Injuries. Protecting your eyes from injury can greatly help avoid or delay the onset of glaucoma. In the home, keep away from too much dust when cleaning is done. When doing sports, keep your eye injury-free by wearing protective gear.
These tips are basic but nevertheless vital in ensuring the health of your eyes. Practicing them may be your hope for zero eye damage until you’re 60 and older. Why not?