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What Foods Should You Avoid If You Have Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a common group of eye conditions that can cause blindness. This damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. Glaucoma is irreversible, but there are ways to stop its progression, starting with simple changes to diet and what foods to avoid if you have glaucoma. Glaucoma usually develops slowly and can take 15 years for untreated early-onset glaucoma to develop into blindness. However, if the pressure in the eye is high, the disease is likely to develop more rapidly.

The easiest way to help slow the progression of glaucoma is to eliminate certain foods that cause high eye pressure. First up, specific kinds of fats. High trans fats have been proven to cause damage to the optic nerve. Time to cut out fried foods, baked goods and any product with an ingredient list that includes hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Saturated foods that include red meat, beef, lard, shortening and oils can also worsen glaucoma. Another reason to lower the amount of saturated fats in your diet is their association with weight gain. Research has suggested that a higher body mass index (BMI) may be associated with an increased risk of glaucoma and higher intraocular eye pressure (IOP). Opt instead for saturated fats that include nuts, avocados, olive oil and pumpkin, sesame and flax seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for glaucoma patients because they decrease intraocular eye pressure, increase ocular blood flow and improve optic neuroprotective function. Omega-3 rich foods include fatty fish such as salmon or halibut, as well as eggs and lean meat.

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source for energy. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates do not fuel the body the same way complex carbohydrates do. Complex carbs contain more nutrients, are used more efficiently by the body and are an essential key to long-term health. Swapping simple carbohydrates such as white potatoes, white bread, pasta, juice, milk, sugar, honey, corn syrup and cereals for more sustaining complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, yams, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, lentils and squash are a great idea. Simple carbs break down quickly and spike blood sugar levels. Complex carbs help maintain healthy blood sugar levels by releasing glucose over time. In addition to reducing the rate of glaucoma progression, managing blood sugar levels aids in maintaining a healthy weight and can even help guard against the risks associated with Type 2 diabetes. Those with diabetes have a greater risk for macular degeneration and glaucoma. 

Considerable caffeine consumption may elevate intraocular eye pressure associated with glaucoma. Drinking more than five cups of caffeinated coffee per day can increase risk of glaucoma as well. Alcohol consumption should also be limited. 

Lastly, identify any food allergies. Common food allergens include soy, wheat, dairy and corn. Studies suggest that disruption in the immune system may play a role in developing glaucomatous optic neuropathy. 

For more information regarding how to prevent or treat glaucoma, please contact Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or WEBSITE