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Glaucoma is not an unheard term for many but very few can relate it to vision loss because the awareness regarding this disease is very low. A very complicated disease damages the optic nerves causing irreversible and progressive loss of vision. Surprisingly glaucoma stands second when it comes to leading causes of blindness.
Around three million people in the world have to battle this type of eye problem that causes structural injury as well as functional damage to the optic nerve head within the eye.
Apart from being one of the least known eye diseases, glaucoma is also one of the most misunderstood diseases.People take it seriously only when the damage is already done which is very sad. Here are the four key facts that everyone should know about this blindness-causing disease.
Glaucoma can cause blindness if it is not treated on time. Unfortunately more than 10 percent people who suffer from glaucoma still lose their vision even after proper treatment.
Note: Patients suffering from open-angle glaucoma needs monitoring all through their life.
Broadly, glaucoma is divided into two categories:
Based on these two categories glaucoma is further divided into different types as follows:
In this type of glaucoma, it seems that drainage angle of the eye is wrongly placed even if it appears normal and open when seen even under the microscope.
Note: Investigating health experts are of the opinion that this condition is sometimes not related to glaucoma but is rather a type of progressive Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy or AION that develops slowly and steadily over a period of time.
Secondary open-angle glaucoma is of different types and is caused as a result of abnormal deposits of various materials in the traumatic damage, drainage angle or abnormal blood vessel growth.
A recent study by UK researchers have revealed that build up of beta-amyloid-a type of protein in the retina of the eye and in the brain tissue is directly associated with the development of glaucoma and Alzheimer's.
The most trusted way of preventing vision loss through glaucoma is early detection. Complete eye exam conducted regularly can only protect your eyes from damage by glaucoma.
Eye specialists trust five common tests for detecting this eye problem. Most of these detection tests rely especially on the structural damage examination of the optic nerve along with measuring other visual functions. For an accurate evaluation of the structure and the visual function, highly advanced devices based on the computer are used that includes:
These detection tests qualitatively assess the visual function and the structural damage including standard automated perimetry and other selective techniques such as frequency-doubling technology perimetry and short-wavelength automated perimetry.
Since regular examination is the only way to prevent glaucoma, you should increase the frequency of eye testing as you age.
Note: A person with high-risk factors should conduct the test almost every year after the age of 35 years.
Eye experts check the following factors before finally diagnosing glaucoma so that the diagnosis is accurate and safe.
|Name of the Test||Part of the Eye to be Examined|
|Tonometry||Inner eye pressure|
|Ophthalmoscopy or dilated eye exam||Color and shape of the optic nerve|
|Perimetry or visual field test||Complete vision field|
|Gonioscopy||The angle within the eye where cornea and iris meet|
Note: People usually get concerned when they do not see any light but this might be because the light is moving around your blind spot. However, this does not indicate that you have a damaged vision.
Glaucoma has no cure, which makes prevention the only way to control its onset. However, there are certain treatments that can stop the progress of glaucoma although no treatment can bring back the vision lost due to this disease. You can always slow down the progress of glaucoma by using different medications. Regular treatments include:
Glaucoma Surgery or Trabeculectomy
Glaucoma Tubes or Implants (Aqueous shunt devices)
Canaloplasty, Viscocoanalostomy, and Trabecutome
Note: Glaucoma surgical treatment can often lead to complications including bleeding or infection and hence sometimes the surgery is reversed in the cases that are beyond control.
But what can make you decide to start the IOP lowering eye drops? How can you know that your ocular hypertension can cause glaucoma? There are certain warning signs that you must consider for taking this decision. These include:
Here are some of the risk factors that increase the chances of acquiring glaucoma in a person. These include:
1.Family History It is a common known fact that medical history of a family plays an important role in the diseases you can suffer from. Recent researches suggest that there is a possibility that you can inherit glaucoma. However, this does not mean that if your either parents or close relatives have suffered from glaucoma you will definitely get it. But it is sure that you are more at risk of suffering from this eye problem.
2.Age A recent study performed by American Academy of Ophthalmology has revealed that the risk of acquiring this disease increase after you cross 50 years of age. The risk is much more in case of black people and starts increasing when they are in their forties. However one this is true that you can suffer from this eye condition at any age.
3.Race Some races are more at risk of acquiring glaucoma. For example, open-angle glaucoma is the leading reason of vision loss in black people. Moreover, people belonging to Caucasian race are six to eight times more vulnerable to this type of glaucoma. The risk keeps on increasing as the black people cross their forties. On the other hand, Asians and Eskimos are at greater risk of developing closed-angle glaucoma as compared to the other races.
4.High Intraocular Pressure Individuals who suffer from elevated intraocular pressure IOP are more at risk of developing this eye condition. Elevated intraocular pressure means the pressure is more than 21 mm Hg. But even people having normal pressure have been found to develop glaucoma.
5.Hypertension High blood pressure also can contribute in increasing the risk of glaucoma. But the studies are yet to confirm this.
6.Thin Cornea A large clinical trial conducted recently has found out that patients having thinner corneas are vulnerable to developing glaucoma.It has also been discovered that thin corneas are more common among African-Americans than in Caucasians.
7.Diabetes Some health experts connect diabetes to glaucoma, however; there has been no evidence to suggest the linkage.
8.Long Term use of Steroid/Cortisone Use of steroid and cortisone for a prolonged period can increase the risk of glaucoma.
9.Eye Surgery or Previous Injury to Eye Injury to an eye can damage the internal structures of the eye causing impairment in the fluid drainage. Complications during the eye surgery can also many times lead to glaucoma.
10.Refractive Errors If you are myopic, you face the additional risk of developing open-angle glaucoma. In case you are hyperopic then you are more at risk of getting closed-angle glaucoma.
11.History of Shock or Severe Anemia Patient with a history of shock or severe anemia has been found to face an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
12.Insufficient Blood Flow or Cardiovascular Disease People suffering from conditions leading to a decreased flow of blood to the eye and brain or those suffering from cardiovascular disease also have increased the possibility of acquiring glaucoma.
13.Obesity Obesity is also known to increase the glaucoma risk.
Until today, no research or study has concluded that a specific food and glaucoma has some connection. But just as you believe and has been proved right in almost all kinds of diseases, what you eat as well as drink has major impact on your health. Studies have also shown that even genetic diseases can be confined from developing to their full effect with prior changes in the diet. Here are some interesting facts that you need to consider while planning your diet to prevent the onset of glaucoma:
Limit Caffeine Intake According to some studies, intake of caffeine in a significant amount of short duration has a tendency to elevate the intraocular eye pressure slightly for a couple of hours. But studies also show that caffeine still does not cause meaningful influence on IOP.This means that people who are at increased risk of developing glaucoma should limit their intake of caffeine to be on the safer side.
Drinking Small Amount of Water Onetime A new study has revealed that more than 80 percent of the glaucoma patients who are used to consuming an entire water quart in twenty minutes span experience elevation in IOP as compared to the other 20 percent people who do not suffer from glaucoma. Since there have been a lot of hues and cry commercially on the social media and internet about the importance of drinking at least eight glasses per day, patients with glaucoma should make sure that they do not consume the water in a large amount at one go. They should drink water in small amount all through the day.
Know More about What You Eat This is a general conception that carrots are too good for eyes and protect your vision. However, the latest studies by senior staff ophthalmologist, G. Pratt, MD at Scripps Memorial Hospital in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego's assistant clinical professor show that carrots may not be playing an important role in protecting vision as once was thought.The high beta-carotene, which is a type of antioxidant, is not found in the eye and hence carrot's contribution to preventing vision loss can be limited.
Nutrients in Spinach On the other hand, spinach that is rich in zeaxanthin and lutein-the two antioxidants can contribute more in enhancing the health of the eyes as these two antioxidants are found in higher amounts in the eyes. Health experts believe that these two antioxidants can help to protect the eyes against the bad impact of oxygen.That is why today, eye specialists are asking their glaucoma and cataract patients to include green leafy vegetables such as spinach more in their diet so that the supply of these two antioxidants can be increased. Spinach is also rich in other nutrients that are good at protecting vision including zinc and vitamin C, A and E.
Two Vision Protecting Diet Steps Making changes in not only what you eat but also how much you eat is equally essential for protecting your vision. You might be surprised to known that the lifestyle changes you are advised to control your high blood pressure works well to lower the pressure within your eye. Thus following a diet to control blood pressure will also help you in restricting the progress of glaucoma. Here are the two steps that are extremely beneficial in lowering the risk of developing glaucoma:
1.Lowering Insulin Levels With the increase in your insulin levels, there is increase in the blood pressure and also eye pressure. Over the time, your body can become resistant to insulin and it is a common observation that resistance to insulin-which is a common thing among patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, is directly linked to the elevation in the intraocular pressure in the eye.
What is the solution? Insulin level surges are caused by two types of food groups-grains and sugar. Even over the time whole organic grains break down to release sugar, so it is best to avoid them or restrict their use in your diet. Apart from avoiding sugar, a glaucoma patient should also avoid foods such as:
2.Regular Exercise is Must Exercise helps to lower the insulin level effectively. Regular and effective exercise programs such as yoga, sprint-burst exercises, and aerobics along with strength training exercises help to reduce the insulin level and also protect your eyesight.
As a part of your eyesight protection program, you must follow certain things keeping your health, age and weight in mind. Here are some of the tips that will go a long way in protecting you from glaucoma.
1.Animal based Omega 3 fat supplement: Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA has been found to promote as well as protect the retinal function and its health. This is a type of omega-3 fat, is present in good concentration in the retina of your eyes, and has been found to be especially beneficial to prevent macular degeneration, a condition that causes blindness.
Note: Fish is rich in Omega-3 fat but due to the recent concerns about toxins and mercury, that are now an integral part of lakes, rivers and oceans, you should instead try to include krill oil in your diet to add this supplement in your diet.
2.Adding zeaxanthin and lutein to Diet: These two powerhouses, as discussed above are rich antioxidants that are known to protect your eyesight. Lutein, which is commonly found in green leafy vegetables, protects the body cells from the damage of free radical. Some of the excellent sources of these two antioxidants are collard greens, broccoli, kale; egg yolks (particularly egg yolks that are raw). Egg yolks are rich in zeaxanthin, a form of antioxidant and another carotenoid type of antioxidant- lutein.
Note: Lutein is a type of oil-soluble nutrient and hence if you consume the vegetables without butter or oil the lutein in these vegetables will not be absorbed. Hence, you need to eat some amount of healthy fat when you eat these veggies so that the lutein supplement is absorbed completely.
Egg yolks in particular are loaded with antioxidants that can protect your eyesight. However overcooking tends to damage the quality of these antioxidants in the yolk and hence you should consume the egg yolk raw either by shaking or whipping them or by poaching them with the runny yolks.
3.Trans fats are Hazardous: Trans fat have a tendency to interfere with the omega-3 fats that are present in your body which is very important for the health of your vision. Research shows that a diet that is high in trans fat can contribute in the macular degeneration thereby leading to blindness. Hence, you should avoid foods that have this harmful content such as fried foods-French fries and fried chicken, cookies, doughnuts, crackers, pastries, margarine a d almost all the baked goods and processed foods.
4.Increase Intake of Dark-Colored Berries: The European bilberry or blueberry has been found to reverse the process of macular degeneration and the bioflavonoids present in these dark-colored berries such as cranberries and blueberries are highly beneficial in protecting vision. These bioflavonoids strengthen the capillaries that supply nutrients to nerves and muscles.
Note: Although black berries are good for eyes, they also have natural sugar and hence should be eaten in moderate amount to avoid increase in the insulin levels.
Here is a list of foods that are rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients necessary for maintaining the health of the ey