Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, affecting around 2% of the population. Glaucoma is the result of progressive damage to the optic nerve due to high pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure). This causes progressive visual field loss and if untreated, eventual blindness. Unfortunately, once vision is lost from optic nerve damage, it cannot be recovered. Glaucoma prevention, as well as early detection and early treatment, are key in limiting significant vision loss.
Glaucoma prevention steps you can take to protect your eyes:
Stop Smoking: Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict. This could potentially restrict the amount of blood flow to the optic nerve. In addition, intraocular pressure has been shown to increase after cigarette smoking. The toxins in cigarette smoke can circulate through the body and cause oxidative damage to the optic nerve and other parts of the eye. All these are likely to contribute to glaucoma damage.
Healthy Diet: In general, a healthy diet and lifestyle helps to protect your eyes. You should ensure that your diet is full of antioxidants such as vitamin A (carrots, apricots), vitamin C (berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes), vitamin E (avocados, green leafy vegetables, fish) and zinc (eggs, peanuts).
Regular Eye Care: This is perhaps the most important thing that you can do for your eyes. Because the damage to your optic nerve tends to occur slowly, you are unlikely to notice the progressive visual field loss taking place. Many patients compensate and cope with gradually worsening sight until one day they realize that they’ve lost their peripheral vision completely. Once the damage to your optic nerve is at an advanced stage, no amount of treatment will be able to help you regain the sight you have lost.
Your eyes can be monitored by the doctors at Associated Retina Consultants in Phoenix. Ideally, you should be seen every 1 to 2 years, or even more frequently if you have some risk factors for glaucoma. Monitoring visits should include intraocular pressure measurements, optic disc evaluation, visual field testing and imaging scans if appropriate. Remember that the aim of monitoring is to pick up early signs of glaucoma damage before sight loss occurs, and then beginning intraocular pressure lowering treatment to prevent further damage and visual loss.
For more information on glaucoma prevention, contact Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or associatedretinaconsultants.com.