Prevention & Risk Factors

High eye pressure does not cause glaucoma, but it is a risk factor. Learn about other risk factors for glaucoma and ways to lower your risk to possibly prevent the disease.

Risk Factors for Open-Angle Glaucoma

Strong risk factors for open-angle glaucoma include:

  • High eye pressure
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Age 40 and older for African Americans
  • Age 60 and older for the general population, especially Mexican Americans
  • Thin cornea
  • Suspicious optic nerve appearance with increased cupping (size of cup, the space at the center of optic nerve, is larger than normal)

Potential risk factors for open-angle glaucoma include:

  • High myopia (very severe nearsightedness)
  • Diabetes
  • Eye surgery or injury
  • High blood pressure
  • Use of corticosteroids (for example, eye drops, pills, inhalers, and creams)

Risk Factors for Angle-Closure Glaucoma

  • Age 40 and older
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Poor short-distance vision (farsightedness)
  • Eye injury or eye surgery
  • East Asian and Inuit ethnicity

Risk Factors for Normal-Tension Glaucoma

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Low eye pressure
  • Japanese ethnicity

Prevention: Lower Your Risk of Glaucoma

If you’re at risk of developing glaucoma, medical experts recommend a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a nutritious diet to improve your overall physical and mental well-being. Taking care of your mental and emotional health is also important.

Suggestions for general physical well-being include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Keep your blood pressure at a normal level and control other medical conditions.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit caffeine intake to moderate levels, because some evidence suggests that high amounts of caffeine may increase eye pressure.
  • Try to exercise daily by doing physical activities such as walking, swimming, or working in the yard.
  • Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses and hats when you’re outdoors.
  • Get regular, comprehensive eye exams, and consult your doctor if you notice changes in your vision.
  • If you are African American, taking prescription eye drops could cut your risk of getting glaucoma in half.

“Vision” Foods to Include in Your Diet

  • Dark green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables: These foods contain carotenoids, which may defend against several medical conditions, including glaucoma. Lutein and zeaxanthin are especially important for vision health. They are found in dark, leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens and kale, as well as in yellow corn, okra, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mango, green beans, sweet potatoes, lima beans, squash, green, yellow and orange bell pepper and egg yolks.
  • Fruits and vegetables abundant in vitamin C: These foods include green peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, sweet and white potatoes, leafy greens and cantaloupe.
  • Foods containing vitamin E: These foods include eggs, fortified cereals, fruit, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, nuts, nut oils, vegetable oils and whole grains.
  • Foods containing vitamin A: Eat liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes, milk, and egg yolks.
  • Foods with vitamin D: The main dietary sources are cod liver oil, “oily” fish, fortified milk and cereal, and egg yolks.
  • Foods with zinc: These foods include oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, certain seafood, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products.
  • Foods with omega-3 fatty acids: Wild salmon, sardines, walnuts, and flaxseed oil are good sources.

Are There Foods to Avoid?

There are no specific foods to avoid regarding glaucoma, however, caffeine, one of the main substances in coffee can cause a several point rise in eye pressure that lasts for at least 90 minutes. Whether that increase is of concern is best addressed between the patient and their eye doctor. A good rule of thumb is to exercise moderation with caffeine consumption. One cup of coffee is unlikely to cause any harm, but if you like to drink large amounts of coffee consider switching some of that consumption to decaffeinated.

Resources:

 

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