by: Dr. Frederick Ho, For FLORIDA TODAY
Glaucoma is a sight-threatening disease affecting the optic nerve — the direct connection between each eye and the brain. As the optic nerves deteriorate, so does vision.

In its early stages, glaucoma causes areas of blind spots in one’s peripheral vision. If untreated, blindness eventually occurs. Even with treatment, optic nerve damage can only be stopped — not reversed. Ophthalmologists have made remarkable progress in treating and controlling glaucoma, but have yet to discover a cure.

Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the U.S. and is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. Elderly people are most at risk. Regardless of age or racial heritage, the most significant risk factor for developing glaucoma is high pressure inside the eye. Other risk factors include a family history of glaucoma, near sightedness or far sightedness, eye injury, low blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and migraine.

Glaucoma is treated in two ways: medicinally with eye drops and surgically with lasers and intraocular valve and shunt insertions.

Medical researchers have recently identified several lifestyle behaviors that positively or adversely affect the severity of a patient’s glaucoma. Beyond complying with eye drop directions, here’s what glaucoma patients can do to mitigate its development and progression.

The most important behaviors relate to activities. Physically fit individuals have lower intraocular pressure than inactive people. Both aerobic and dynamic resistance exercises lower eye pressure. Somewhat surprisingly, in the opposite direction, is yoga. Although recommended for its relaxation benefits, certain head-down yoga positions increase intraocular pressure and must be avoided.

Optimal eye health depends on optimum ocular tissue nutrition. One’s diet determines the quality of those nutrients. Carrots, leafy green vegetables and fruits are particularly helpful to glaucoma patients as are foods rich in omega-3 and 6 oils. Ginkgo biloba has positive effect on ocular blood flow and improves visual function…….

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Source: Florida Today