You may have heard the term glaucoma before, but aren't really sure what it means. Glaucoma is actually a series of eye diseases in which fluid pressure in the eye builds, eventually damaging the optic nerve and leading to vision loss and even blindness.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of glaucoma often go unnoticed by people with the disease, making it one of the leading causes of blindness, affecting close to 400,000 Canadians, according to the Glaucoma Research Society of Canada. Individuals who are particularly at risk are people over the age of 40 and anyone with a family history of the disease.
While glaucoma currently has no cure, it can be treated if detected early on by a complete eye exam. In the meantime, here are five things you can do right now to help prevent glaucoma.
1. Stay Physically Active
Studies have shown that moderate exercise three or more times a week can actually lower the pressure in your eyes. Even something as basic as a short walk or run can have a dramatic impact in terms of decreasing eye pressure and reducing your risk of glaucoma.
2. Wear Protective Glasses
Studies have shown that traumatic eye injuries can directly lead to glaucoma. That's why it's particularly important to wear protective eyewear if you're playing sports or working in a hazardous environment where your eyes could be easily injured.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
Research has found that as your blood pressure increases, it's possible that your eye pressure will too, eventually resulting in glaucoma. Avoid foods rich in fat, sugar and salt to keep your blood pressure under control and reduce your risk of developing glaucoma.
4. Treat Eye Pressure Early
If a complete eye exam determines that you have higher than normal eye pressure, you could be at risk of developing glaucoma. The good news is that specialized eye drops are available that can dramatically reduce eye pressure. The key is to take them daily, even if you haven't yet developed glaucoma symptoms.
5. Get Regular Eye Exams
The best way to prevent glaucoma is by getting a regular eye exam, particularly if you're over the age of 40 or have a family history of the disease. Early detection means any risks can be minimized before they become more serious and that you may be able to stop glaucoma before it starts.
To find out if you're at risk for glaucoma, book a complete eye exam at an FYidoctors near you.