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  • Writer's pictureRichard Kadri-Langford

The impact of health and lifestyle decisions in controlling glaucoma

If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma, you are not alone. Around half a million people in the UK have the condition which arises when the optic nerve becomes damaged; generally due to a build-up of pressure inside the eye.

Glaucoma is generally managed with eye drops, although there are surgical and laser treatments available. However, whilst current treatments can help to slow down the development of glaucoma or prevent further damage occurring, they can’t reverse any existing damage. That’s why regular eye checks are so important, helping to identify glaucoma at an early stage.

Aside from medical interventions, are there other health and lifestyle changes which could help to control or prevent glaucoma? Well with glaucoma generally arising due to higher pressures inside the eye, one option could be to take steps to manage that pressure. For example, Sight Research UK comments that drinking five or more strong cups of coffee per day could raise eye pressure so perhaps cutting down on caffeine might be a good idea. [1]

Elsewhere, whilst echoing the warning about caffeine, the American Academy of Ophthalmology highlights:

Dark leafy green vegetables and fruits which are high in antioxidants, such as cranberries and pomegranates, [are]amongst the list of foods which may be beneficial for helping to control glaucoma. [2]

Meanwhile, a study published in February 2022 revealed that following a Mediterranean lifestyle could be a protective factor for glaucoma incidence. [3] It’s worth noting here that the study looked at the entire lifestyle rather than simply a Mediterranean diet. So whilst diet is important, other factors such as sociability, regular exercise, moderate drinking and adequate rest might also play their part.

The idea of physical exercise as a means of helping to control glaucoma was explored in one study which was published in 2019. [4] That concluded that:

...physical activity may help in preventing further damage and that glaucoma patients should be “encouraged to cultivate a healthier and active lifestyle as an adjunct to the existing treatment.”

Whilst agreeing on the benefits of exercise, one eye practitioner, Alyson Hall, stresses that it should be the right sort of exercise, pointing out that the use of swimming goggles can in fact increase eye pressure. [5]

Interestingly, the lifestyle changes explored above have also been identified as being beneficial for managing other conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, conditions which themselves can have negative consequences for eye health. So perhaps when we consider the impact of health and lifestyle changes for controlling glaucoma, we should also acknowledge the positive benefit to our general health which can come from a balanced diet and regular exercise.

At Occuity, we are soon to launch the PM1- the world's only non-contact, handheld optical pachymeter in global markets. The device will assist in the easier, faster and safer diagnosis of glaucoma.

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