A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a nutritious diet are both extremely important tools for maintaining overall well-being, especially for people with glaucoma or macular degeneration. Both exercise and a healthy diet are important for overall health, but they also promote good eye health.
Recommendations for Physical Well-Being
Eat a Variety of Healthy, Nutrient-dense Foods
Foods that contain carotenoids, antioxidants, vitamins A and D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent further degeneration of the eyes. Although these nutrients cannot completely reverse the effects of glaucoma, they can help prevent its progress. Carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, are found in dark green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables, including: spinach, okra, orange peppers, collard greens, kale, egg yolks, mango, and sweet potatoes.
Exercise can help lower eye pressure and helps blood flow to the retina and optic nerve. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity, such as walking, swimming, or even yard work. However, keep in mind that some aerobic activity may increase pressure, so be sure to contact your physician before beginning any exercise program.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
A healthy diet and exercise regime lowers the chance of developing glaucoma by decreasing the risk of developing diabetes and becoming overweight.
Keep Blood Pressure at a Normal Level
If blood pressure levels are low, it becomes difficult for blood flow to adequately reach the eye, which causes oxygen depletion and nutrient deficiency. High blood pressure results in optic nerve damage, leading to glaucoma and vision loss. An eye physician can detect high blood pressure during an eye exam and determine an appropriate treatment.
Do Not Smoke
Smoking increases blood pressure and inflammation in the eye, which leads to increased chance of cataracts and diabetes. Both cataracts and diabetes are risk factors for glaucoma. Smoking also increases the risk for macular degeneration and other eye conditions.
Prevent Overexposure to Sunlight
Wear wide-brimmed hats and high quality sunglasses that have 99% to 100% UVA and UVB protection.
Regularly Visit an Eye Doctor
Comprehensive eye exams detect early warning signs of degeneration. If you have glaucoma, make follow-up visits as recommended.
Take any Prescribed Medication Consistently
Take medication as directed by your eye doctor, especially if you have glaucoma.
Nutrients and Where to Find Them
- Carotenoids: spinach, okra, green beans, orange peppers, collard greens, brussel sprouts, lima beans, green peppers, kale, egg yolks, squash, yellow corn, broccoli, mango, sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin C: green peppers, strawberries, leafy greens, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, broccoli, white potatoes.
- Vitamin E: whole grains, leafy greens, fortified cereals, nuts/nut oils, fruit, eggs, wheat germ, vegetable oils.
- Vitamin A: liver, milk, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, carrots, mangoes.
- Vitamin D: cod liver oil, “oily” fish, fortified milk cereal, egg yolks.
- Zinc: oysters, nuts, red meat, dairy, poultry, beans, certain seafoods, fortified cereals.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: wild salmon, sardines, walnuts, and flax or chia seeds.
Eating a diet that is high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and that is low in sugar and fat can reduce the incidence of many chronic diseases, and researchers are continuing to study whether these dietary modifications are also applicable to glaucoma. Visit our Disease Toolkit for more information about macular degeneration or glaucoma.
The information provided in this section is a public service of BrightFocus Foundation, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we take efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.
This content was last updated on: April 12, 2019